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@Jamie Lonsdale you'll have to sell it, too. So no, you can't switch it off and on and off and switch and on again...
so you just can switch off a nuclearpowerplantbut never on again!?!
Very good explanation on why electrical grid synchronization is needed. I must admit I have seen several videos about this topic but watching yours I think I finally understand.I do have one question thou. Modern generators can control their energy output by increasing or decreasing energy level that power generator coils and thus create needed magnetic forces for them to work. Would it be possible to reduce the "synchronization kick" of connecting second generator to grid by minimizing its power generation by energizing its coils with minimal voltage even when they are not in perfect sync?
-2 here an tva has manaded rolling black outs in the south ....
@T Samuel You explained how it currently works, but not why my idea couldn't be implemented. Thank you anyway, I appreciate that you at least responded.
As a previous power plant engineer, I deeply appreciate you including coffee makers when you listed essential equipment for the power plant to run.
Without coffee, IT people and service techs don’t function. Without those people, not much is going to come back online.
When I took my first Detroit Boiler Operator license oral exam, the tester asked me what is the first thing you do when you come on shift? I actually squirmed in my seat for a second looking at him, and he smiled and said, "after you turn on the coffee pot". I smiled at him, nodded and went on with the test. Which I passed.
You don't need electricity for cocaine 🤔 might be an alternative haha
The four essential engineering fluid systems:Central water linesCentral compressed air linesCentral vacuum linesCentral coffee lines
Don't forget the microwave for reheating 3 day old pizza and frozen TV dinners every 16 hous or so
This video coudn't possibly have been released at a better time. An excellent explanation of what is actually happening nearly every week down here in Ukraine.
@Bien Agiter Can you at least be coherent? Because that is the logical conclusion to what you are actually saying. I understand that you probably don't think through the things you repeat, but better late than never.
@frysebox1 nice gibberish, already used the Kool-Aid I see
@Bien Agiter agreed nuclear warfare is the only option, I am also a fellow avid enjoyer of having my brains scrambled by propaganda
@paradigm respawn you gonna negotiate with Putler????? That's the biggest joke I have ever heard. Just ask Latvia, Estonia or Lithuania about how that might work. Then get back to me.
You know, NATO don't want you & the US Gov't will give you all the toys to get you up on the Front Lines so, in tbe words of Senator Lindsey Graham - "Ukrainians can Fight to the Last Man."Could there be a Better Option? Peace, maybe?
When I was in school for my EE degree (many decades ago), we had a lab where we were allowed/required to play with 5000V. It was also powered by electric motors and we actually set up generation stations which were synchronized with (using a light bulb) and then connected to, the grid. It was all very scary. Even though I was specializing in computer engineering, all EE students were required to take the junior level "power" classes which included this lab. It made me very nervous. I much preferred making circuits with breadboards and fine wires using 5V to using those thick cables to hook up 5000V circuits. 😀 Thanks for sharing this video, it brought back some very good memories.
The lab classes at my uni did most things at and around 400V phase to phase. Grid startup simulations were only talked about, not tried. But we did visit labs that worked at 400kV or similar. But the entire concept was taught and we all knew which 2 plants were the black start sites of the local grid. Since then, at least one has become a museum with the generator output disconnected, but they claim another nearby plant has taken over the duty.
During the Great Blackout of 2003, The power companies asked customers to turn off heir air conditioners and leave them off for a few days after the power was restored. An upscale suburb near me had their power restored at about 10:00 am. By 11:00 am the power was back out again.
@Cecily B I highly doubt they targeted the rich, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were some very power hungry buildings they gave low priority. I lived in the middle of no where and we'd always be at the very end of the list. Once we were without power for two weeks. I bught a single solar panel and a big deep cycle battery. It would keep the fridge, TV, and lights on all day, but had to charge it in the evening at Walmart (they had a 12V fast charger they let us use for free) to keep the lights on at night. Unplugged the fridge for the night since we could plug it in in the morning once the battery was charged back up. Plenty of thermal mass anyway.
@R Hamlet I once lived in an area where there power outages were not rare. Our neighborhood was cut more often than others, because there were buisness offices and some rich-ish people living there - thus they had the means to have power generators and not suffer from the outage. We very quickly negociated with our landlord to have a generator installed after a few months (not powerful enough for the oven, hob, or water heater, but it did mean that the heating was still on, as well as the water, light, and fridge. If we were careful, we could even use the microwave). But yes, when they had to cut electricity, they indeed tried to target those who could more easily ”afford” it.
@Arthur Moore You seemed to miss my point. The rich can afford to buy new food if it spoils. They also use far more energy. Focusing on poorer neighborhoods reduces the impact of outages while also providing more people energy faster since more people can be supported with the same amount of energy.
@R Hamlet It doesn't matter what class a person is. We all need water, food, and shelter at a habitable temperature. Especially the elderly. That is why electricity is so vital to our modern way of life.
The rich should have the least priority for power restoration... They use the most energy and can afford to be without for a few extra hours
My father was Grid operator - on duty he faced system melt down - and he manually turned off the power to half of the Capital city. That kept the system running and saved the Black out. His supervisor gave him hard time for his decision. But they had simulator and for 6 months they tried everything to save the system, in the end - the only way out was my fathers approach. But nobody ever gave him medal or appreciation. May him rest in peace. Another non known hero that you will never know about.
@Robert H I have read that military boot camp works that way as well.
This may be the biggest did you try turning it off and then turn it back on again moment ever.
Sometimes a good job is it on reward.
@Me Here Yep, that would be the same for IT guys too.
This reminds me so much of running out of power in Factorio. Your miners require energy to dig up the coal that's required to generate energy, and when you restore power there's often a spike in demand as all of the belts and other buffers have emptied out so all the machines are working at 100% capacity. It's amazing how the game can approximate real-world problems like this.
@Brian Reid I have a separate grid in the plant powered by one isolated turbine to run the plant itself (logic, inserters, pumps, etc) with the rest of the turbines only on the main grid. I also power the internals with the main grid, but that's a matter of manually separating power poles while every component is powered by one from each grid. Startup is as simple as stamping a blueprint & the internals of the plant have perfect redundancy with no need for startup logic. . . at the expense of a 2nd, internal grid. . .
@SgtKilgore406 I pre-empted the blackout of the main grid running the coal miner & water collection pumps needed for 8 coal generators run off of one of them on a separate grid. I'm essentially using a black start plant to power the inputs of the main plants while they don't power themselves. . . which probably wouldn't work in real life without sufficient redundancy in the power paths between them and the main plants. . .
@Esajps Asipes 8 years on this game and only recently discovered that. Crazy.
@Jared Lessl you can disconnect the poles and connect them manually
This is some video game?
Grady, you are literally filling in all the spots in my brain that my high school teachers failed to do. i actually think school is set up in an odd way. i in fact had no desire to focus on learning and using information until i was well into my late twenties. most young kids don’t desire to learn i think. i imagine it might be a cool experiment to put people in an educational program after they’ve aged a bit and experienced what life is
It's called college. And community college is alot like highschool
I strongly believe we need to turn teenagers' education into a video game. Now I'm older I love learning but when I was a kid education was like water off a duck's back.
We have to experience real world problems/situations in order experience the need for information/knowledge.
@Gregory Kotoch i agree but only partially and that’s because i can guarantee you that there definitely are teachers out there who do sub par work. it takes enthusiasm in the job to teach most kids. for example i failed a class my sophomore year with an F and retook it the very next year and passed with an A. it was because the second teacher was passionate about the job in my opinion
I was the same way. The main reason why younger people do not have an interest to learn when they are young is not so much that the teachers are not good teachers or that there isn't enough money put into schooling, it has to do mainly with kids just trying to fit in, make some friends and not be made fun of during the day. I'd say that's where most of their energy is going during the day instead of on learning- where it should be going.
I love seeing all the industry veterans coming out of the woodwork with positive and informative comments. Respect to you guys!
Back in the 70s as an apprentice in a coal fired generation station, we were shown the most important piece of equipment in the station, a starting handle, mounted on the wall of our gas turbine generator building, for a cold start, if all else failed, this was used to start a diesel generator which gave enough power to start 1 gas turbine, once 1 was running we had enough power to start all 8 Gt,s. The rest of the plant could be started, good fun days back then.Thanks Grady for all your efforts in making these great videos.
Ex-Navy Nuke here. The nuclear plants I trained at still used synchroscopes when bringing turbine-generators onto the plant grid; cool to see them mentioned here. Great stuff!
Still the best way, but what he didn't mention was that the lager the generating unit the longer it takes to synchronize it to the rest due to the weight of the rotating elements. Then the units must be loaded to about 40% of full load to stabilize the frequency before the next unit is switched in.
I'm a Ukrainian living in Kyiv and I'm finally glad to see an explanation on this topic. The power company has been driving us mad because they always turn on our neighbours' apartment building before our own haha. And since this system is still being repaired, a power balancing schedule is in place.
So I'm sure zelensky has power at his house in florida. He isn't concerned about you guys. Just how much he can fleece the u s.
@Zhong Ping You didn’t even know where the Ukraine was earlier in the year. Or anything about it. Typical yank.
@IstasPumaNevada Ha ha ha.
Кожен світ хоч у темряві бачить силу українського народу. Славе Україні! Героям Слава!
I know that when they did the Zellweger system for load control for various items as well as other Ripple control systems and of course any other type of load controls.There's a system in place in this to introduce a delay of so long after a power interruption to restart whatever load is connected even if it would turn on immediately otherwise for this reason to reduce load at when the power is restored after an interruption!To reduce the strain on the grid when there is a power failure and power is restored.I'm not sure if this is integrated into any of the other load control systems but I'm sure there's also other systems in place to do something like this as well.What I'm referring to in the old systems of the Ripple control system the at least in the electromechanical ones that were essentially just a coil and Armature that was basically tuned to the frequency of the Ripple that the irisher would start to swing and once it got to a specified position it would close contacts to activate the load!But that intriguing part I was referring to is if the grid frequency drops which would also be accompanied by a voltage drop which could be caused by excessive load or otherwise that load that's controlled by the Ripple system would be disconnected until the power frequency is restored to normal!The idea behind this would be in situations where that the system is over taxed with load the voltage would drop also the frequency would be lower a bit to normal under the circumstances and it would reduce load by shedding anything control by the Ripple control system thus reducing load automatically under situations where this would need to be done anyways to keep the grid going and to avoid the grid going down frankly it was pretty clever this is a very old system but I'm sure there are some Modern equivalent of this!We're essentially sensing utility voltage and if there's a drop would drop certain loads automatically is also if the system is overturned the frequency can drop I've heard this from various sources but take it with a salt but it's just one way to avoid outages caused by excessive loans and also helps with things that start up at times from what I understand
Interesting. I live in Florida and have experienced storms ranging from "merely" tropical to full blown CAT-2 hurricanes. I've lived in the same house all these decades and have wondered why it sometimes takes just as much time (sometimes even more) to get back power from a lesser storm. This video gave me a greater appreciation of what goes into restoring a grid beyond simple physical damage to lines, transformers and substations.
@Hunter Carter Oh, the state has certainly been hit by quite a few CAT 4 & 5 storms. But since I live in the interior of the state, they tend to lose at least two category levels (usually three) by the time they get close to me. If memory serves, Hurricane Ian hit the Punta Gorda / Cape Corral area as a CAT 4. But by the time it had reached my county, it had dropped down to a CAT 1. I believe Hurricane Charlie was the worst one I have gone through in my area. It was still about CAT 2 strength when it went through my county, badly damaging our main roof and pretty much destroying our carport. It was followed by another hurricane just a few weeks later (can't remember the name) that crossed over us from the other direction. Thankfully, that one was weaker. But the joke in central Florida that year (2004) in my area was: "X marks the spot."
@Hunter Carter 2005 was a bad year for us down here too. While we didn't have a Cat 5, we did have 3 of them one right after another. Katrina, Rita, and Wilma all touched us with Katrina a Cat 1 at the time , Rita was a Cat 2, and I forget what Wilma was when near here. With Rita we lost power for a week as the crews had to repair some of the three phase lines before they could get us powered back up. Once the crew arrived, it took them most of the day to find where the fault was. It was a cracked insulator that they only found after blowing a number of fuses trying to locate it. It was a 3 mile long power line. We now are on a segment that is only 1/2 mile long. Much easier to find the fault but bumps us down as far as priority.
As a Mississippian I am surprised you’ve lived in Florida for decades and still haven’t been through a 4 or 5. I still have nightmares about Katrina when I see hurricanes on the tracker heading our way.
@Vulpine407 They will in most areas have an easier time than down here. Here if you dig down 6" you are in rock. When Andrew came thru, it snapped off most poles at ground level. That included brand new concrete poles that were 4' in diameter and so new that the power had never been turned on to them yet. On our street is one lone survivor of Andrew. The pole in front of our house was put in in 1978 when our house was built. They had to top it to install a new insulator but our transformer was put back in use for almost another 5 years after that. It has a lean to the West but it has survived a Cat 5, several Cat 1,, Cat 2, and Cat 3 Hurricanes. After Andrew, my employers flew over the areas hit with the District chopper. I have the unedited videos from that with the time stamp on it. Now days drones do the same work. And yes, I can feel for those on our West coast having been thru one of the worst in US history.
@gravelydon I can believe that. Just looking at what happened to those poor souls in the Southwest of my state... Brrr, those drone footages are scary as hell. I'm pretty sure it will take them weeks just to get power up throughout that area.
Grady, as an old EE guy, I want to say that your series on the power grid has been excellent. And you could continue on the complexities for a lot longer than most folks are willing to accept.Yes, it is a house of cards. It tends towards instability which can only be prevented by constant monitoring and adjusting.
I worked at a facility which was mission-critical. We'd proactively switch to generator before thunderstorms. There were usually phase differences between the generator plant and grid, so the building would noticeably shake when the transfer occurred. Fortunately there were 10, 5, 1 minute warnings with a 10 second countdown over the PA system.
My father told me about the blackout incident of 2003, he was one of the many people to incorporate those new safety protocols to keep it from happening again
FP&L had one in 2008 that resulted in power loss for about 3 million people. A short circuit with the protective breakers cut out caused 38 Substations, 26 HV grid lines , and power plants in 4 counties to go down. Major loss was the local nuke plants which take care of most of the load. No grid, no nukes as they automatically will drop the rods to shutdown.
Coffee maker is totally the most important thing during black start. You don't want sleeping zombies doing the startup. Probably will break more stuff. 😂
@Paul Serdiuk They also sell caffeine mixed with water and sugar in convenient bottles, but you have to add your own cream.
Ours had dedicated UPS units :-)
@Ryan Boncheff Nope, the refrigerator and the microwave are. Because if you have both, you can have coffee with cream.
You joke, but in the emergencies I worked through, the coffeemaker was running nonstop and the freezer was filled with microwave food. We had our own on-site generator just in case things did hit the fan, but with road infrastructure out and power at home potentially gone, everyone brought go-bags so they could work 12 on and 12 off indefinitely. Alternatively, 8 as an assist, 8 as the primary, then 8 off. Coffee is a crucial part of that routine.
@JackieNoobFilms You can also use a stovetop kettle, and not just for tea.
I would LOVE to see you do individual books on each piece of our infrastructure. I have your current book, read it cover to cover and loved it - currently it's with my nieces. With your education style, I would pick up anything else you wrote. Great work, thanks for all the effort!
Great video! You explain bringing up the grid and synchronizing generators very well. After a Public Safety Power Shutdown here in California it takes some time for the Pacific Gas & Electric Company to bring power back to customers. Your video tells why this is.
Really good timing on this video! I live in central North Carolina and some people just destroyed a power substation around me in Moore County. Around 40k people are without power including businesses, gas stations, and hospitals. Some have generators. They’re working on rebuilding and restoring power but it may take around a week to do so.
Yep. What happened near you and in WA and OR is called a trial run.
Oh wow, I sure hope everyone is being kept safe. Prayers for a fast restoration🙏
This reminds me very much of disaster recovery plans in other industries. "When the worst happens, once you stabilize or correct the situation, what steps must be taken in order to restore operations? What are the priority areas that need to be restored first and how do we protect them as we restart services?" I've done things like that on large IP networks. I was once in a situation where several devices went offline in an unplanned outage. We couldn't simply bring them all back up because the system would never converge with all the activity from nearby devices. We had to bring things back online literally one at a time from the center out to the edge and keep things from talking until the system was stable enough to accept the communication. Took hours.
Britain has two pumped-storage facilities, one in Wales and one in Scotland that are designated Black Start stations. They are never run down to empty so they can provide Black Start power to the rest of the grid if necessary. As you said, it's never been tested for real because blacking out the nation's entire grid just to see if it would recover properly is not a feasible proposition.
Here's my local one 😊en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinorwig_Power_Station
I can confirm that you did an amazing job of keeping all the important details yet not getting too much in the details that it would be hard to grasp for anyone not in the loop.
Another great video! Would love to see a video with your take on the Moore County, NC substation attacks (once we find out more information of course) and what can be done to harden substations and other potentially vulnerable infrastructure. Love your book too!
I would love to see you build, like, a model of a whole state, with a dozen tiny power plants and cities… show us how hard it actually is as if you were a real grid operator. Get your wife and some friends to be plant operators, with transmission lines between rooms… That would be fun!
@John DoDo Doe ohhh, I wonder if any of those still exist - if so, maybe he could do a Tom Scott style field trip, but with his more in-depth knowledge
In the old days, grid operators had such physical models to check their calculations and reconstruct past failures. Those apparently even simulated phase differences through long transmission lines.
Yeah! The topic I requested! Working briefly at IESO (Ontario grid operator) as a student, I got to hear stories from operators about the great blackout, like how they had to wheel a photocopier into the control room and other weird stuff. Now I design black start capabilities for microgrids at hospitals and industrial facilities that have on-site cogeneration.
I'm just a lowly software developer, but for a short time, I worked for Western Area Power Administration. While there I had the opportunity to go through their multi-day EPTC training program in Lakewood, CO about operating the grid. One of the things we had to do was start up a small grid in their training facility. The whole training was eye-opening. It was one of those "I didn't know what I didn't know" experiences akin to first learning assembly. If you (the reader of this comment) and I were in the same room I could describe the surprise I experienced when turning a small generator and FEELING the increase in difficulty when a small incandescent flashlight bulb was added to the circuit. Then the mind blowing 🤯 moment when everything clicked and I understood the reason why breakers exist throughout the grid. It's complex and beautiful.
I worked for WAPA also as a substationelectrician, We had real world training using Fort Peck hydro generator and a local substation to go through black start procedures! The EPTC was one of the many classes/ training I had while there! Best job to date!
That sort of reminds me of the flashlight bulb thing of how in some of the museums they would have you know the demonstration for how electricity is generated using hand crank generator and alone possibly a few additional loads like this and switches between the course for demonstrating about how it's harder to generate more power as the load is increased!I've seen some people just say Wow to something like this of course!I've been in many museums in my life also I had gone to the Grand Coulee Dam when I was just a kid!Another place and it was a museum sort of thing Educational Center you know close to the complex of a nuclear power station!They actually did have a small Solar Ray there which is kind of interesting seeing just even with the clouds passing over just how much it affects the output from the solar panels that was pretty cool!Also they had a demonstration there which was a model frame it might have either HO scale or N scale train I cannot remember which of the two.They had solar panels on the back of the display case and reflector problems toward the front angle at the panels to demonstrate the effect of providing solar power all these were connected to a dimmer on the front of the display!That one thing we are at a museum one time me my father they had a demonstration steam engine my father even was fascinated by this thing it was probably one of those intriguing things I'd say in a long time at Museum regarding production of power of any sort!This was a lot more recent than all the others that I mentioned at least in terms of going there.You actually had full operation of all the controls and this is one that was also equipped with condenser and everything else all the bills and whistles which I had not actually seen a demonstration on this scale of detail and Technical nature is this but definitely well designed and very informative and something that really gets things across like just how things work and the complexities involved with doing something like this and even for me was mind-blowing considering that I've actually worked with other equipment that's more complex than this but still something like that is less complex and all but yet more of a wow factor and more.It's not everyday you can feel more around with a piece of equipment like that it's just this is not just meant for older folks this was kids you know I mean they need more exhibits like this some places!Right now everything's just to high tech you could say!Sometimes if things are dumb down a bit instead of all these fancy things that you actually instead of just pushing a button or throwing a switch you have to open up an app on your phone to even turn something on!Don't even get me started about the clouds and if the internet doesn't work you can't turn your lights on sort of thing and I can't actually happen under the right conditions too!I knew someone that had smart switches everywhere F1 store or another well there are nothing out and Chaos ensued!The only way to get lines was the unplug all the smart switches and plug lamps directly to power problem is almost all their hardwired light fixtures were on Smart switches!This is not one of the ones that can run independently of the internet!All they really need to do is have some sort of manual override that basically just turns the switch on or off at the switch either as a convenience which could be used for and also as a backup to if there is a communication issue a hub issue an infrastructure issue what have you that would still work like a normal simple light switch if for other reasons you cannot turn on the light it would just be one or two inputs and a few extra lines of code on the switch itself problem solved.Oh and of course you could actually naming corporate a couple extra buttons for other features or even to maybe do another group of Lights Plus you can monitor the status of those buttons for on and off that could signal to something else that you had turned off manually which could also be a trigger for a different event or say anything else it'd be a bonus extra feature they can make a little cost a little bit more but people might buy it for this reason alone that it had the capability of being actually turned on and off as long as the switch itself was operational and everything else is gone Waco
The EPTC is A NERC certified facility for training and has folks from all over the US come in for training.
I believe there's also the fact that you can't just put more and more power plants online (to power each other) without switching on the loads for them as well. The power needs to go somewhere and power plants usually have limited capability to regulate how much power they output, so they must be also gradually connecting loads, which is a whole complex issue on its own.
@John DoDo Doe They will light up some loads just to put some load on the grid but not nearly as much as you would think.
@Joseph Kordinak But near the end of the training exercise, how do you avoid production excess if the only loads are plant and grid losses?
I can tell you as a power plant operator who has been to black start training many times lighting up loads is low on the priority list. The major priority is lighting up transmission lines and tying islands together.
Power plants will never produce at full capacity, they have to leave about 4OMW spare. The grid operator uses this space capacity to stabilize the frequency of the grid, which is more important that voltage on the transmission level.
I’ve worked closely with WAPA in the USVI. They take each island grid down every time there is a tropical storm or hurricane. And so they must have a blackstart recovery each time, which is difficult bit on a smaller scale than any off the three grids in the US/Canada (Eastern Interconnect, Western Interconnect, ERCOT). Large grid or small grid, getting them up and synchronized is a challenge.
@John Doe From my EE education, one line would provide initial sync, then each additional line might need phase adjustment before establishing a redundant connection that turns the lines into an actual grid. Fortunately, most black starts happen on a grid where all the lines were correctly adjusted just a few hours earlier, so they tend to be in sync already and just need power to run. Situation is much worse when recovering from major grid damage as the adjustments will have to be redone during the process, as the grid is essentially being rebuilt. Someone will have to watch synchronization meters at each interconnect before closing the big switches. Oh, and good luck phoning the control room from the field as telecoms have been skimping out on their back up systems for about 2 decades now. I hope the grid operators have backup power for the old control fiber optic networks to function during black starts.
I get generator synchronization but grid synchronization begs many questions:What is used for the grid frequency reference?How is the generator frequency in each island adjusted?Would only 1 transmission tie line be used for the initial sync?.
I worked for a power company for 9 years and this has got to be the best explanation I've heard.
I Love most Practical Engineering videos but this is one of my favorites I have seen from Grady! Fascinating and one of the best explanations I have ever seen of the black start! What a great end to an amazing series.
I have been a PM for transmission projects for the last year. I have been recommending your videos to our younger/junior PM's with out much experience in the energy industry. The 500kV underground line fascinated our office.Also I was in 3rd grade when the 2003 black out started. Now at 28, I'm now working on the program that started in response to the black out and there is no end in sight to it.
Oh, you are so young. I was working a different engineering sector in 2003.
Thanks for the video! I imagine that even your video only begins to describe how complex this process is in real time. In the future, hopefully we will have a decentralized grid based mainly on local renewables and (battery or other) energy storage capacity. It would be so much more resilient, both locally and for the entire system. Kinda ridiculous this is not being prioritized politically more, given how strategically advantageous it would be versus potential attacks.
Reminds me of the (still running) St Mary's Falls hydropower plant in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. Started in 1902, and still running. But it runs *74* separate turbines in parallel. And in 1902, keeping them all synchronized and in phase was done by an operator on each turbine, watching a pair of lightbulbs (this was before synchroscopes) and cranking the water input gate for that turbine open or closed with a large mechanical handcrank.These days it's all done with advanced SCADA controls, but in the old days it was constant manual labor, b/c the turbines took constant monitoring and adjustment to keep synchronized.And it must have been a "black start" facility, b/c when it was built there was other generation on the grid, nor any connections to a larger regional grid.
11:05 It may be worth mentioning that after generators are synchronised and connected to the grid, they rotate together - same speed, same phase - no matter what. If you cut off steam to a generating set on the grid it would continue to rotate, drawing power from the grid to counter friction. If you gave it extra steam it would not speed up, it would just feed more power into the grid. Every generating set on the grid (turbine plus generator) behaves like a gigantic distributed flywheel connected by a virtual shaft - that shaft is the grid.
And a generating set on the grid is like the classic unstoppable force. Put an imovable object in its way and it will smash the object or smash itself, except we have circuit breakers which will disconnect it.
As a fellow Texas Engineer, I really appreciate your videos! Municipal water supplies would be another good topic with lots of examples to pull from locally. I know we recently had an emergency repair on our deep water intake that was a fascinating example of how repairs are done on an active utility with minimal (or major) disruptions.
@740GLE Don't know about New England, but Texas problem was GREED and a lot of missing money. Every politician and upper management in Texas should be criminally investigated. But it's Texas so it won't happen.
New England is next it’s gonna put that TX event to shame!!
@ValleysOfRain Nuclear is the way.
@ValleysOfRain It wasn't just the engineers, it was anyone with enough intelligence to vet and understand the readily-available information they found on the web. But I bet it was big.
@ValleysOfRain while everybody knew it was due to powerline failures and fossil fuel plants and pipeline not designed for the cold and not prepared for it. Had they built 4 wind turbines less the entire grid had collapsed completely
These electrical grid videos are fascinating, and a bit unnerving to realize how reliant our society is on this complex system. But thankfully we have so many smart and dedicated engineers, electricians, and others working to keep us safe and connected!
I really appreciate this series. Experienced my second blackout recently after a plane hit some powerlines in Montgomery County MD and its kinda reassuring knowing all that has to happen to get the power back online.
This is really interesting. I'm thinking about Ukraine and I'm wondering if you know how one could harden a powergrid through clever design so as to be easier to repair OR more resilient to lower-intensity strategic bombing campaigns.
10:05 - Back in power lab in school, we had a 3-phase "machine" (both motor & generator), the size of a full sized van, that we had to speed up to synchronize it to the AC line before connecting it. We used 3 light bulbs, one for each phase, and connected, when all 3 lights went out.
So many different concepts I've been familiar with all come together in a major power grid. Large multi engine jetliners have an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) that start via a battery and provide enough power to start the main engines, which is similar to the black start generators. When you turn the key in a car to start the engine, while the starter is cranking power is cut to the radio and other accessories to push power to the starter, similar to isolating the main grid from the transmission lines while getting power stations back online. Synching generators to provide proper phase alignment is like when we started 2 generators on the ship while I was in the Navy, the electricians had to get both gensets' phases synched up to put them in parallel so they both shared the load. So many "moving parts" to deal with!!
When I was studying elec eng 50 years ago, my lecturer recounted an incident where a fellow engineering student, didn't sync the generator with the grid. There was a loud bang, and the mounting bolts securing the generator all sheared, putting the plant out of action for many months.
Great video! Could you speak to how grid scale storage helps/hurts this process? Also, does DC transmission complicate or simplify the process? My off the cuff thought is that grid scale storage could dramatically assist black starts to the point where I wonder if siting them considers the black start capability.
Thank you for doing this series. I learned a lot, and I am prepared now to be really annoying with information next time we have an outage and my friends and family just want to complain about it in peace. 😁
Boy, seeing that synchroscope takes me back. We had those in the plant and in the control-room simulator. Simulator drove actual real synchroscopes with the needed voltages/frequencies. Having students learning to sync to the grid was a part of every operator's training.
@K. York Yes, we always had the scope going 'slowly in the fast direction'. The direction indicates which source's frequency was higher. This meant as soon as the breaker closes, the incoming generator starts feeding a small amount of power as it is slowed slightly and locked into the grid. Better to pick up a slight load than to sit with zero or even negative amount as that can trigger 'reverse power' protection relays. "Motoring' a generator can never do any good and can be risky if allowed for too long.
I remember seeing another comment saying they would always sync when just a tad fast of grid, because the connection would usually give a slowdown
@Archer Sorry, didn't mean to imply they are gone from use now. Yes, still mounted on just about every generator switchboard I've ever seen. Just that I learned how to use that exact make/model of synchroscope almost 50 years ago. "Long ago... on a switchboard far, far away..." lol
@D-Rock yep he's a awesome guy
I've really enjoyed this series - especially with the news out of Moore County, NC, it's been helpful understanding the basics of substations and grids from these videos.
I remember touring an oil fired plant in Bridgeport, CT I think it was once back in high school. They had one of these big gas turbine units as a backup, I guess they were one of those blackstart facilities.
I can't remember the channel, but was watching a video a few months back on startup of a small hydro electric dam. They were still doing it manually with a syncrotron. Very interesting to watch - it would auto trip offline if they weren't extremely close on synch before tripping the breaker; which happens several times in the video. The off-phase startup example definitely puts into perspective why grid tie is so closely regulated.
It's interesting that once two generators are connected, they stay in sync. I often wondered how they kept all those power stations synchronised, and thought it was quite complicated
It is, he didnt go into it but you have different modes you run in. One generator usually a very large one with a lot of rotating mass will set the frequency in isochronous control and everyone else runs in droop control.
Something else to keep in mind is that a lot of these breakers and switches have to be flipped manually, as not everything can be digitized or automated in the system.
When I was in the Navy I worked on (among other things) the ship's electrical plant. We had 3 (or 4) generators on the ship and whenever we brought a generator online (to increase our available power or so we could take another generator offline for maintenance) we had to synchronize that generator with the ship's "grid" before we could close the generator breaker.Even more interesting is when we were pulling into port and hooking up to shore power, we had to briefly synchronize the ship's "grid" with mains power. When you are syncing with shore power you have to disable the auto load-balancing circuits so you don't try to power half of San Diego with a single 2500kW generator. ;) You also NEVER want to have a generator connected to the grid for more than 5-10 seconds max because a spike or surge in grid power could cause a tremendous amount of damage to one of our generators.In each case we used a synchroscope similar to the one depicted. We were trained to never get the synchroscope to actually stop, you want the generator (or source) coming ONLINE to be moving just a little bit faster than the existing bus. You slow down the needle to about 5 RPM and close the breaker just before the needle reaches the top.
I am an electrical engineering student and had a lab experiment on synchronisation. Your demonstration has helped me to understand why synchronisation is so important. Thank you
When engineering generator systems, this is why we use protective relays that have an ANSI 25 synchronization check function. It prevents a breaker from closing allowing a generator and a live bus to be connected out of sync. If this happens out of sync, the mechanical synchronization is very bad. 180 degrees out of sync, and it's a kaboom situation.
I saw some good videos online showing synchronous motors and how they lag as the load builds until they pull out of synchronization. That would certainly cause some wobbles with a big motor. Also lots of stuff on using one for power factor correction. Im a truck driver not a student but I can understand the principles if not the details from this.I live in South Australia where we have some days using 100% renewable only and exporting to other states thanks to wind/solar farms and high penetration of rooftop PV along with grid scale batteries. The problem is grid stability due to such low "inertia/momentum" because there is not really any spinning generators during high output days and it is easy for harmonics to upset the system. They have installed 4 rotary Condensers which are solely to add a flywheel effect to pull up the grid or keep it down if it surges. You will probably be interested so this is an article on it www.energymagazine.com.au/sa-synchronous-condensers-installed/
These deep dive series you have been making lately are so cool! I love all the info you’re able to pack into them.
Good stuff, now I can finally somewhat understand what electricians mates did in the Navy. I was a machinist mate (nuclear- nec 3386), so I never messed with any of this electrical stuff. We just turned valves to get those steam turbines running.
Back in the 80s I worked overseas at a compound that had it's own diesel generation plant. Being a tech, I got elected to run the plant for the 3 weeks a year that the normal plant manager was on vacation. The plant consisted of 2 big honking caterpillar powered generators of which one would run at a time. Every day I would fire up the standby unit and sync and switch them without dropping the load. As a tech, I understood the forces involved in syncing the generators every day, and it kind of creeped me out. The generator enclosure was very small requiring the operator to stand within a foot of the 2 roaring generators when he synched them up and threw the switch. By the end of my 3 week tour of duty each year I would finally be comfortable throwing that switch, but the next year it would start all over again.
You can actually experience this load on the alternator while it's being driven by the car's engine. Especially if you have a small 4 cylinder at an idle. If you turn on something that draw lots of power such as the blower motor or even the headlights. If you listen closely, you might be able to hear the engine slow down while the alternator is under an extreme load.
During the 2003 blackout, my (then) local coal plant maintained a small gas turbine (jet engine) generator. Not long after sun down that evening, the local area to the plan had power restored as they had already gotten their smaller coal unit back online with the gas turbine unit. From there, they re-light their large coal units.
An excellent video, as usual for you Grady! I've been involved in this issue on a MUCH smaller scale as an Engineer in the US Navy in the early '70s. We had three, 750 kW steam turbine generators and one diesel 750 kW emergency generator on board. We would run drills wherein we would "lose the load" and all equipment would trip off line (generators, main engines, boilers, etc.) while at sea and practice bringinging everything back online using the diesel generator to accomplish this.
@R. H. Yep. It takes a bit more finesse than "just flipping a switch."
My father-in-law was a naval electrical engineer, he told me a story about somebody preparing to take shore power. They were phasing in the ship to the shore supply, this person said 'That will do' and flipped the switch...BANG!Words you do not want to hear when syncing in...'That will do'.🤣
@krallja In order to not cause an interruption in the ships power we had to synchronize with the shore power. We did this by matching the frequency, phase and voltage with the shore power. After we closed the shore power breaker we would lower the governor control to move the KW to the shore power and then lower the voltage regulators to move the KVARS to the shore power. When the generator outputs were zero we could open the generator breaker. We reversed the process to move the ship from shore powere to ship service power.
@krallja I didn't get involved in that (Electrician's Mates did that, I was a Machinist's Mate, I ran turbines, pumps, etc.) But I do know that synchonization was part of the process for bringing up a generator, bring down a generator, and switching to shore power.
Did you have to synchronize the generators when connecting to shore power, or was it an instantaneous cut over?
Excellent video. I would love to see something more on the details about phase matching, especially considering phase measurement units. Maybe even a video about grid capacitors and inductors that help correct for current disturbance
In many older hydro power plants, the wicket gates could be opened at least once using large compressed air tanks to return from a total plant trip or black start. This was the case before battery banks and stand by generators and with older governors.
Going back to mechanical/analog days seems to be a reoccurring theme in modern times. It's almost like changing literally everything within a century can have unexpected technical difficulties.
Many thanks for explaining this Brady, and I like the models - might try building one myself if I have time. My favourite piece of kit in a power station is the Synchroscope - I love watching the needle slowly rotate and hearing the 'BANG" as the breakers close to lock the generator onto the network! Brought back great memories of my time working on the Turkish grid with TEK back in the 80s!
I've experienced this in large Satisfactory factories. It took me like 30m to bring my power back online one time when I didn't notice a few issues building up. Obviously no where near as complex but I had four generation facilities and kilometers of cables and hundreds of consumers which had cold start pickup problems too which was an issue since I usually keep my grid close to capacity. I had to stop a lot of consumers to bring it back online.
I think maybe a Jenga tower is a better analogy for the grid. It's normally quite stable, but several compounding mistakes and overextensions can cause it to topple, and then it has to be reassembled from the ground up
Thank you for this. Understanding what's going on helps with being patient when things go wrong.
What a fantastic video, sir! I never knew that large scale generators had no magnets in them, and instead they used power to excite one set of windings - that's amazing!
Went into this video thinking that I'll hear doom and gloom about how we're completely unprepared for super major outages. Instead was pleasantly surprised and calmed down by how well prepared we actually are!
As said in other comments, this indeed reminds me of hours of head-scratching when playing Satisfactory. With major sized factories, you better have well isolated circuits if you don't want to spend hours restarting everything manually. Excellent.
Blackstarts are why I have an ungodly amount of batteries that can power EVERYTHING for an entire two hours of no power generation.
I remember when I was studying electrical engineering in the late 1980s out lecture (a retired power station engineer) related a lot of stories about what you have said. On one occasion he told the story of when the whole grid in souther England (UK) went down because one of the power stations decided to run the generators too close to the phase point (the turbines where only just ahead of the phase ) to save money, a sudden demand happened thus triggering the station to disconnect as it thus turned into a motor! Another was when he described the synchronization using those meters you showed, and that you had to watch the meter and throw the switch just at the right time, if you did not it would instantly break back. He also said altering the rotor current is also use in motors to control the speed and allows regenerative braking on trains (he mention why trolleybuses could stop so quickly) etc. I think this is one thing that seems to have got lost when the started using electronic controllers, as I read a couple of years ago that they have started using regenerative braking on trains!
Oh wow. Thanks for this video. Just tested a personal theory with a $50 SDR and there's enough there to satisfy this hobbyist. The two motors vibrating next to each other gave me the idea plus that OG Synchroscope and your description of how power comes back on. ~1.0066GHz was an eye-opener for me - it's all harmonics and math.
This reminds me of when my home state was almost completely without power due to a grass fire that was too close to transmission lines in windy conditions. The few areas least affected were the corners farthest away from the source because they were able to isolate themselves before they got fully knocked out. Unfortunetlly for my family we didn't live in any of them and we were in the thick of it.
Nicely done! Your synchronization discussion reminded me of an operator at a gas processing plant that I managed 20+ years ago. When he was relieving the B operator we were just about guaranteed to get shut down if he had to do a generator swap. He couldn't grasp the concept of slowing the needle down, preferably stopping it. He would try to "catch it" by closing the breaker as the dial spun around rapidly. We would lose everything. I wish you would have mention that the frequency threshold for shutting down is extremely important. A drop in frequency is an indicator that the load exceeds the design horsepower of the prime mover. So if the frequency starts to drop the grid operator has to shed load before it becomes critical else the whole thing can come tumbling down...
Loved this video! Always a topic that has fascinated me and not really covered that well it seems.I recently visited Hoover Dam this past year and one thing I recall the tour guide pointing out was a separate smaller turbine in the 'turbine hall' that was specifically for plant power supply. I wonder if this permits them to do a black start from there if necessary. With the way things are going with the dropping levels in Lake Mead, I wonder if such a scenario is inevitable.
12:00 When I studies industrial electronics, one of the things we did in third year labs was to sync a generator (20Kw) with the grid and actually plug it in. Exactly what you showed here, there was even 3 witness lamps like the one you added in the middle. That's the only thing I did with electricity that made me nervous. ; )
Yeah this video is one of the very few that has genuinely useful information for me. I used to assume that the power grd is just a switch tht can be toggled on and off. It is truly far much complicated than that. Thanks dude.
In light of recent events, would you be willing to make an episode about the possibility of every state having its own power grid, potentially surviving off of its own resources or at least with the addition of wind and solar?
Another great video. I love the effort you put into these garage demos. Too bad you had to sacrifice two automotive alternators but it visually got the point across.
Uh sorry, i forgot. Use a small 160-200cc engine to turn it and use a 3 phase transformers to make a usable power. And some Arduino to control the rotor voltage
@Putra Adriansyah What? You can't get something from nothing!😁
@Putra Adriansyah He still would need electricity to excite the alternators, and to drive the electric motors that turn the alternators!
@Practical Engineering connect the alternators to a 3 phase step up transformers and make a working useful generator from it to power your house in case of blackouts :)
No alternator were harmed to make this video, they ascended.
That's insane to me that they used to have to manually close the breaker and wait for synchronization. I'm a HV station design engineer and know that 230kv and up all have sync checks now. Just never really thought about how it was done back in the day
I always wondered what exactly they were doing when using synchrosopes to bring power stations online, what an amazing explanation thanks Grady!
Ironically, one of the major power stations you show in your stock video clips is the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station, formerly in Page, Arizona. It was shuttered in 2019 and demolished in 2021. Today, it no longer pumps untold amounts of water from Lake Powell and no longer pollutes the air throughout the Four Corners Region.
Well done on the practical setup, Grady. I've wanted several small power plant videos where the gentleman is reconnecting to the grid and didn't fully understand the process. This really cleared it up.
I would be really interested in getting a breakdown of what happened in North Carolina for the deliberate Act of terrorism and how they manage restarting the grid after repairs are made. This is actually a very on point video, as this very situation is happening right now.
@wbfaulk Want to tell that to FPL. In 2008 an engineer took out the protective circuits to diagnose a faulty switch. A short circuit occurred which killed 38 substations, 26 HV grid lines, and shut down power plants in 4 counties. That put over 3 million people without power for up to two hours or longer. All because one substation dropped off line. Cascade affects from a sudden loss of load can have major affects on the grid. In particular where nuke plants are involved as they are designed to protect themselves at a level that fossil plant could only dream of.
I'm pretty sure some substations we're also shot in Oregon and Washington and you would have to know where to shoot a substation to shut it down
yeah, I was hoping this will address NC power grid attacks given title and time of the video release.
I think that would be great to get on here somewhere afterwards just I was thinking the same thing actually needs to be done for sure
@Dale Krohse They do? I work for a utility and have no idea where the weakest link is. But I'm also not actively looking for it. Just doing a little work here and there to keep my boss happy and let the checks keep coming
Grady I love your videos, you're such a friendly communicator, it's a pleasure to learn from you, helped with your fantastic models. Keep up the great work. 👍
Every blackout I've been in has been the result of transmission lines going down due to weather, not the power generation itself going down. And that's why I'm a huge fan of burying the gods-damned power lines whenever possible.But yeah, it's a difficult and complicated system. And frankly, the US power grid is a lot more fragile than it should be - mostly because it's so piecemeal and has seen any major upgrades in decades. But that's what happens when the government refuses to invest in infrastructure. Even the latest infrastructure bill just barely scratches the surface of what needs done in this country.
Thank you! This was a most informative and interesting video! I learned quite a bit. We don't have power failures very often where I live, but when we do, I try to turn off stuff that will draw hi amperage upon start-up, just to help alleviate a bit of the load (and also in case of a power surge), but I imagine that it is just a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. Great vid!
It is more likely to 'survive' without stopping when you remember that receivers are usually not using all V and A and (especially for motors) you should rather use some circuits to re-use this power not to return it to grid because power speed and loss is deltaV (between 1,0 1,2,0) related.
this has got to be my favorite channel out of all 300 or so various channels I subscribe to. when there's a new video it's the next thing I watch. and my retention isn't so great but I retain the most when watching these and gather valuable insights having fun the whole time.
I worked at a coal-fired power plant when I was in college that was built in 1949. It had synchroscopes in the control rooms that they had modified with a rotary encoder on the backside to feed into control computers. Many of the panels in the control rooms had been "blanked" over the years as their controls were replaced. Working as a summer worker, we were always told the mythical story of a janitor who took down a unit while waxing the floor by accidentally bumping a switch with his mop.
Great video! I have enjoyed your videos and the various subjects, and your explanatons make a whole lot of sense without using long,technical terms! Keep up the good work!
You can actually hear it when 2 large generators(alternators) are connected together out of phase. You'll hear the frequency difference (beat frequency) vibrating in the coils of the 2 machines, fighting against each other. You can feel it by touching them also.
I enjoy your videos. When I was a power plant operator, we synchronized the oncoming generator with the synchroscope moving "slowly in the fast direction" and at a few moments before straight up. This combination (slow in the fast direction and slightly before straight up) causes the oncoming generator to pick up real voltage (as opposed to VARs) and positive load immediately upon closure, and minimizes the risk of a reverse current trip.
It should be mentioned explicitly and more often, that everybody can help to ease the restoration of electrical power. I've been in situations where the initial load was too high and it took several attempts to restore electricity. If everybody would turn all (but one) lights off, disconnect devices like fridges/AC/TV/computers, flip uneeded circuit breakers, etc., then the initial load will be reduced, which makes it easier to restore the grid. And it also protects your devices from power surges!
Great video Grady! You make something so very complex much easier to understand for us interested, but non-engineer folks. One note, it's a "water heater" not a "hot water heater". You normally don't need to heat hot water.😁 And I'm loving your book. Thanks.
I didn't get most of this, but still, another excellent video. The budding engineers of this world are lucky to have this channel and many others to go through.
The power grid has always amazed me, but there was a time when electricity was produced locally. Could going back to this basic system be viable today?
I'm amazed at how detailed yet simple you have kept this video
The best description I have heard about black starts, and I spent over 45 years in the industry and being involved in many black start exercises.
I use synchroscope all the time on the ships I work on. When I parallel two or more generators together, I get the needle on the synchroscope to spin slowly in the fast direction (clockwise). I work as an engineering officer, and my favorite part of my job is working with power generation.
That demonstration of how the two alternators sync up when connected together is so fascinating.I venture to guess a bunch of science teachers are going to use this video on their classrooms.
I really think you should add one more video to this series: Distributed grids. It'd be a great way to connect traditional power generation with the other videos you've done on renewable energy and residential solar.
Loved this video. Your model reminded me of a youtube video I saw once taken at a small [antique] hydro plant. The light bulb on your model reminded me of that, as this particular plant had both a gauge and a bulb for synchronization. Idk if that video is still around or not, I believe it was in Canada but not sure.