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Generation Capacity

Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant_060422A
[Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant, Arizona - US Department of Energy]

- Overview

The energy world can be a tricky place to navigate, especially if you don't speak the same language. 

A term that is thrown around often is power generation capacity. It's basically a way for experts in the field to measure the growth of energy resources, from wind to nuclear.

Capacity = Maximum Power Output

When it comes to generating capacity, consider the maximum power output. Capacity is the amount of electricity a generator can produce when running at full speed. This maximum power is usually measured in megawatts (MW) or kilowatts and helps utilities predict how much electrical load a generator can handle.


- Types of Capacity

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are generally three types of capacity measurements:

Nameplate Generating Capacity - Determined by Generator Manufacturer

Summer Net Generation Capacity - Determined from performance testing during peak demand from June 1 to September 30

Winter Net Generation Capacity - Determined from performance testing during the peak demand period from December 1 to February 28.

These numbers are all different, so it depends on what you're trying to measure. 

For example, summer electricity production is typically lower than winter electricity production at thermal power plants because cooler water generates heat better than warmer water.

Capacity is not the same as power generation. Power plants have the ability to generate a certain amount of electricity at a given time, but if they are offline (i.e. for maintenance or refueling), then they are not actually producing electricity.


[More to come ...]

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