At African Utility Week in Cape Town, Johan Pretorius, business development manager, Schneider Electric South Africa, presented a paper on ‘The Impact of Revenue Collection on Non-Technical Losses’.
“The current issues facing utilities include the need to up revenue collection and reduce non-technical losses,” explains Pretorius. “Examples are theft, illegal connections, meter tampering and incorrect metering, all of which contribute to the lack of revenue collection. The efficiency of electrical distribution is rarely planned or managed by utilities.
“One of the key challenges is the incorrect and inaccurate municipal billing system, resulting in various communities being dissatisfied with the inaccurate municipal bills that are issued. Consequently, public confidence in terms of the billing system dwindles and communities are unwilling to pay against bills issued.
“Non-technical losses in the power sector are almost non-existent, or negligibly small, in developed countries, but the situation tends to be significantly different in developing countries. The elimination of such losses should be a matter of high national priority for every country.”
Thanks to Smart Grid strategies, it is both possible to plan, measure and improve transmission and distribution efficiency. The Smart Grid is an electricity network that can intelligently integrate the actions of all users connected to it – be they generators, consumers, or both. Smart Grids are able to deliver sustainable, economic and secure electricity supplies efficiently.
“One example is substation monitoring,” says Pretorius. “Monitoring of medium voltage (MV) equipment in older substations is costly as it requires complex, intrusive methods. New solutions and sensors are therefore required. With smart solutions, simulation and testing become effective methods for reducing network losses.
“The daily load, voltage, power factor and temperature profiles of substation and feeders are examples of data that can be gathered by a monitoring system, then through software, a chronological overview of events can be determined and formatted into customisable dashboards.
“Problem solving becomes easier with such a system. For instance, locating the source of losses within the network is one of the first challenges. One solution for monitoring LV networks is to utilise smart energy meters. Where losses occur in the distribution grid, they will vary depending on the network.
“Utilities operating electrical distribution networks are therefore able to reduce losses thanks to smart strategies, thereby enhancing active and passive energy efficiency. Since local distribution networks are becoming more difficult to manage, more accurate and highly networked (connected) equipment and sensors are required.”
Transitioning to smart MV/LV substations is a cornerstone of the Smart Grid. Utilities operating electrical distribution networks are in a position to reduce losses through smart strategies, enhancing active and passive energy efficiency.
“The market reality is there are increased short-term capital costs, but the long-term advantages include lower operating costs, reduced energy waste and an integrated and flexible network,” concludes Pretorius. “At Schneider Electric, we have become a leader in a number of our markets. Now we want to power the digital economy in Africa.”
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