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While transporting electricity, the transmission and distribution networks incur losses which amount to about 7% of electricity entering the network. These are accounted for in the energy consumer's bill and carbon footprint. That is why reducing losses on distribution networks can have a significant effect on overall CO2 emissions for the country.
There are several types of distribution losses:
- Electrical energy losses - the natural effect of wires heating up while conducting electricity. These losses vary in proportion to the load transported and are an unavoidable consequence of the laws of physics.
- Electricity consumed by network operations - some equipment, tools and functions in our substations need a power supply to work. This is provided by the electricity transported. This is for instance the command and control equipment, and general substation facilities on site (transformer cooling fans and pumps, heating and lighting, and voltage control relays).
- Electricity theft - activity conducted by people who access an electricity supply illegally.
- Inaccuracies in metered and unmetered data - our routine meter registration processes seek to prevent and remedy any misallocated data flows to ensure that electricity use is linked to customers and their energy suppliers.
HOW WE ARE MANAGING LOSSES
We install a minimum cable size of 300mm2 at 11kV where practical (e.g. if bending radii and termination arrangements allow) and continue to install a minimum 300mm2 mains LV cables that are of a larger capacity than the minimum size option, having taken into account capitalised electricity losses in the assessment of lifetime cost within our designs. Using larger cables to deliver electricity will help us save up to 10,500MWh, enough to power 700 homes for a year. Over the last two years, we have invested in larger electricity cables in order to reduce energy losses, and in 2016-17, this led to a saving of 1,767MWh.
We will continue with our current distribution transformer oversizing policy for pole-and-ground-mounted transformers with demand customers connected. However, for distribution transformers with dedicated solar or wind generation connected we do not oversize the transformer, as the intermittent generation profiles do not justify the cost for an increased transformer size.
We've entered a partnership with a new national initiative to tackle electricity theft: Stay Energy Safe, a dedicated platform for anybody to report energy theft. Our role is to contribute to raise awareness around the initiative, and to share background information helping to solve reported cases.
Low loss transformer
We now procure Ecodesign Tier 1 transformers and are awaiting the Tier 2 transformer offerings from manufacturers (from 2021). Capitalised losses figures may lead us to procure more efficient transformers than Ecodesign where economic.
Our newly established Smart Grid team is planning to invest in wide-spread LV board monitoring, and as part of this investment, analyse the economic benefits of power factor correction, installing harmonic filters and phase re-allocation.
We are undertaking research to better understand where losses occur on our network using smart metering data. This will help us better target loss reduction activities in the future.