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electricity theft
Smart Grid  
12 May 2017

Electricity theft and non-technical losses total $96bn annually – report

According to new research conducted by Northeast Group, electricity theft and other so-called "non-technical losses" total a staggering $96 billion per year globally.

According to new research conducted by Northeast Group, electricity theft and other so-called "non-technical losses" total a staggering $96 billion per year globally.

In a release, the Northeast Group states that the problem is "crippling utilities around the world, driving up prices for paying customers and often necessitating costly government subsidies."

The firm notes that non-technical losses including theft, fraud, billing errors and other issues are now beginning to be addressed more aggressively by utilities.

"Non-technical losses are often hidden costs and have received little public attention, but have enormous costs for utilities, customers and governments," according to Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. "This $96 billion problem not only results in higher prices for paying customers and costly government subsidies but also a public safety crisis in some countries with dangerous illegal power connections. In many countries, high non-technical losses threaten the financial sustainability of the electric utilities."

Notheast Group adds, "As electricity demand steadily increases, particularly in emerging markets, so are non-technical losses. But new solutions offered by numerous vendors are emerging to address this problem. Utilities are increasingly leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to combat electricity theft.

"Real-time data through smart metering and advanced grid sensors can provide utilities with a clearer picture of the losses on their systems. Sophisticated software and analytics are also now being applied to identify areas of concentrated electricity theft so utilities can address the problem."

Revenue protection

Furthermore, the market for non-technical loss reduction solutions, or "revenue protection" as it is commonly known in the industry, spans the value chain of smart grid infrastructure segments.

This includes large grid infrastructure and software vendors as well as metering-focused companies and niche players targeting this market.

 

Image credit: 123rf

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Tom Langdon-Davies
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$96 billion sounds like a lot, but how big is the world electricity market? Around $1 trillion? If so, these losses are about 10%. My guess is its much worse as a percentage in some developing countries with poor infrastructure, and therefore not so bad in advanced economies. Who has more data on this?

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