In an alternating current electric power system, synchronization is the process of matching the speed and frequency of a generator or other source to a running network. An AC generator cannot deliver power to an electrical grid unless it is running at the same frequency as the network. If two segments of a grid are disconnected, they cannot exchange AC power again until they are brought back into exact synchronization.
A direct current (DC) generator can be connected to a power network by adjusting its open-circuit terminal voltage to match the network voltage, by either adjusting its speed or its field excitation. The exact engine speed is not critical. However, an AC generator must match both the amplitude and the timing of the network voltage, which requires both speed and excitation to be systematically controlled for synchronization. This extra complexity was one of the arguments against AC operation during the War of Currents in the 1880s. In modern systems, synchronization of generators is carried out by automatic systems.