Supply Meets Demand: the Electricity Mix

We’ve just seen that power demand varies widely over the course of time, having previously described the various supply options that exist to balance this demand with suitable supply. Running a power system means putting the two together, to match (“balance”) supply with demand at any point in time.

Given that we are talking about a point in time, this means balancing power.

In other words the rate at which energy (electricity) is being consumed must be matched by the rate at which it is being generated at any moment; in MW or GW (or whatever the most appropriate scale of power unit). The amount of energy generated and consumed (i.e. sold and purchased) over a period of time will result from this balancing process.

The best way to visualise this balancing of supply and demand in action is by means of more real data. We’ll also use the opportunity to remind ourselves how metrics such as capacity factor can be calculated and/or visualised from such data.

In this lesson, I’ve used data for the UK (1).

As discussed previously, different markets can vary widely in both the shape of their demand curves and the supply sources available – or, in future, most suitable – to meet this demand. One challenge for business people in many markets is the lack of easy availability of the data needed to do analysis like this. It often requires either a bit of searching around – and/or some money!

So presentations like the one below are not about the specific data or country, but about highlighting the principles involved, so that you can apply them whatever your specific situation. There are some useful references listed below the video.


(1) UK data is available from excellent, free sites such as this one.

(2) If you’re in or interested in Germany, then there are some good charts to be found here.

(3) In the US, I can recommend the EIA’s data portal, found here.

(4) Plus a reminder that other references and sources, including data where available, are regularly added to the Grey Cells Energy Virtual Library. So keep an eye on that too!