Definition: Capacity factor

From Open Energy Information

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Capacity factor

The ratio of actual energy produced by an energy generating unit or system in a given period, to the hypothetical maximum possible (i.e. energy produced from continuous operation at full rated power)[1][2]

Wikipedia Definition

The net capacity factor of a power plant is the ratio of its actual output over a period of time, to its potential output if it were possible for it to operate at full nameplate capacity continuously over the same period of time. To calculate the capacity factor, take the total amount of energy the plant produced during a period of time and divide by the amount of energy the plant would have produced at full capacity. Capacity factors vary greatly depending on the type of fuel that is used and the design of the plant. The capacity factor should not be confused with the availability factor, capacity credit (firm capacity) or with efficiency., The net capacity factor of a power plant is the ratio of its actual output over a period of time, to its potential output if it were possible for it to operate at full nameplate capacity continuously over the same period of time. The capacity factor is calculated by dividing the total amount of energy the plant produced during a period of time and divide by the amount of energy the plant would have produced at full capacity. Capacity factors vary greatly depending on the type of fuel that is used and the design of the plant. The capacity factor should not be confused with the availability factor, capacity credit (firm capacity), efficiency or cost of energy., The net capacity factor of a power plant is the ratio of its actual output over a period of time, to its potential output if it were possible for it to operate at full nameplate capacity continuously over the same period of time. The capacity factor is calculated by dividing the total amount of energy the plant produced during a period of time and divide by the amount of energy the plant would have produced at full capacity. Capacity factors vary greatly depending on the type of fuel that is used, the design of the plant, it's location, reliability, maintenance schedule and can also be subject to regulatory constraints and market forces. The capacity factor should not be confused with the availability factor, capacity credit (firm capacity), efficiency or cost of energy., The net capacity factor is the unitless ratio of an actual electrical energy output over a given period of time to the maximum possible electrical energy output over the same amount of time. The capacity factor is defined for any electricity producing installation, i.e. a fuel consuming power plant or one using renewable energy, such as wind or the sun. The average capacity factor can also be defined for any class of such installations, and can be used to compare different types of electricity production.The maximum possible energy output of a given installation assumes its continuous operation at full nameplate capacity over the relevant period of time. The actual energy output over the same period of time and with it the capacity factor varies greatly depending on a range of factors. The capacity factor can never exceed the availability factor, or the fraction of downtime during the period. Downtime can be due to, for example, reliability issues and maintenance, both scheduled and unscheduled. Other factors include the design of the installation, its location, the type of electricity production and with it either the fuel being used or, for renewable energy, the local weather conditions. Additionally, the capacity factor can be subject to regulatory constraints and market forces, potentially affecting both its fuel purchase and its electricity sale.The capacity factor is often computed over a timescale of a year, averaging out most temporal fluctuations. However, the capacity factor can be also computed on a monthly basis to gain insight into seasonal fluctuations. Alternatively, it be computed over the lifetime of the power source, both while operational and after decommissioning.



Related Terms
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References
  1. http://205.254.135.24/tools/glossary/index.cfm?id=C
  2. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/jfo/envy/Wind%20Power%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf