Transporting large amounts of electricity over long distances inevitably leads to some of the energy being lost, either in the form of heat or in delivering the electricity into our customers’ homes. We’re working to manage these losses as efficiently as possible.
How energy is ‘lost’
The laws of physics mean that there will always be some ‘loss’ when distributing electrical energy through a network. In simple terms, energy is ‘lost’ when the energy entering our network is higher than the energy received by our customers. Losses can occur in a number of ways, but are divided into the three broad categories.
Technical losses are an unavoidable consequence of electricity distribution. Just as a wind farm needs some electricity to keep the lights on for its staff, so an entire electricity network uses some energy to enable it to deliver electrical power. Technical losses are usually lost in the form of heat.
Non-technical losses describe energy that is used but isn’t paid for. This can be through illegal activities such as energy theft but more often occurs where legitimate energy usage isn’t billed correctly.
Contact voltage losses
Contact voltage losses (CVL) are a new type of losses discovered by UK Power Networks and independently validated by Princeton University. CVL occurs when an underground cable faults. Princeton University calculate the energy lost via CVL in Great Britain annually is enough to supply over 170,000 homes.
Each year we publish our losses strategy, which outlines how we will achieve our vision of the greatest magnitude of loss-mitigation gains of any distribution network operator in the UK.
Our three objectives are:
Maximise the amount of energy we save every year for our customers
Integrate losses management further into our existing processes and systems
Engage with stakeholders to promote loss-inclusive design, collaborate, share knowledge, and integrate this learning into our Losses Strategy