At African Utility Week from 14-16 May 2019 at the Cape Town International Conference Centre, 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 are the need to up revenue collection and reduce non-technical losses. These include theft, illegal connections, meter tampering and incorrect metering, all of which contribute to the lack of revenue collection,” explains Pretorius. “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 incorrect and inaccurate municipal bills that are issued. Consequently, public confidence in terms of the billing system dwindles and communities are unwilling to pay for 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. In all successful cases, a large share of non-technical losses was concentrated in users being able to pay for cost-reflective tariffs. The elimination of those 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. They are all able to deliver sustainable, economic and secure electricity supplies efficiently.

Substation monitoring

“One example is in substation monitoring. Monitoring of Medium Voltage (MV) equipment in older substations is costly, as it requires complex, intrusive methods. New solutions and sensors are required. With smart grid solutions, simulation and testing becomes an effective method 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, through software and a chronological overview of events can be determined. These data points can then be formatted into customisable dashboards.

“Problem solving becomes easier with the system. For instance, locating the sources 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 will vary, depending upon network.

“Utilities operating electrical distribution networks are now able to reduce losses in their networks, thanks to smart strategies, thereby enhancing active and passive energy efficiency.

“Local distribution networks are becoming more difficult to manage. Therefore, more accurate and highly networked (connected) equipment and sensors, will be required


The transitioning to Smart MV/LV Substations is the cornerstone of Smart Grid. Utilities operating electrical distribution networks are in a position to reduce losses, due to smart strategies, enhancing active and passive energy efficiency.

“The market reality is there are increased short-term capital costs but the long-term advantages would include lower operating costs, reduced energy waste and an integrated and flexible network. At Schneider Electric, we have become the standard in a number of our markets, and we want to power the digital economy in Africa,” concludes Pretorius.

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