Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Lost in Transmission - an argument for microgeneration?

Just how significant are transmission losses in the electricity grid?  the solarblogger investigates.



Proponents of solar pv, small wind turbines and other domestic-scale renewable electricity technologies often state that one of the benefits of generating electricity on people's homes is that you avoid all the losses from moving electrical power from where its made to where its used.  But just how much electricity is lost on it's way to your meter?  Would we be better off having lots of small renewable energy systems at the point where electricity is used, or filling fields with solar panels and wind turbines and feeding into the grid instead?
 
The Department of Energy and Climate Change in the UK publish energy statistics each year, and a look at the Digest of Energy Statistics, Chapter 5 - Electricity gives values for the losses.
 
For 2011 transmission losses in the UK electricity system were 6.5 TWh and distribution losses were 20.7 TWh.
 
Totalling up all the electricity supplied to customers (and excluding own-use by the energy industry) in the year gives a figure of 320 TWh.
 
From these figures, the losses in getting the electricity from power station to electricity meter can be calculated as:
 
(6.5 + 20.7) / (320 + 6.5 + 20.7) = 7.8%
 
So around 8% of the electricity generated at UK power stations is lost in the grid.
 

Other countries

 
 
Electricity Transmission and Distribution losses, selected countries
 
Argentina
14.8%
Ireland
7.5%
Botswana
79.3%
Netherlands
3.9%
Canada
7.9%
Poland
8.3%
France
6.1%
Romania
12.2%
Germany
4.2%
Sweden
7.3%
Greece
5.3%
USA
6.3%
Italy
7.1%
OECD Average
6.4%
Source: World Bank, includes pilferage 

 

A Strong Argument?

 
So what do you think?  Is 6-8% of electricity lost in transmission a strong argument for microgeneration?  Post a comment below.

4 comments:

  1. An interesting post. It is worth remembering that these losses are actually the energy required to get the electricity to where it is needed, and not like losses in say the water system due to old leaking pipes. Microgeneration where the electricity is used locally will not incur these losses, but where it is fed into the grid it will. The National Grid quantifies microgeneration in terms of negative demand for electricity.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolutely a case, as long as we are aiming for a smart grid where loads can be more carefully managed by the DNOs

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am very thankful to you for posting such stuff.This really help me lot.

    ReplyDelete
  4. But just how much electricity is lost on it's way to your meter.

    ReplyDelete