As part of ENA's infographic campaign, Colin Taylor, Director of Engineering Services at SP Energy Networks, writes about the reliability and world-leading levels of performance of the energy networks and how the networks are constantly working to get better and better. Check out the full series of ENA's infographics here.
We’ve all been there – you’re shopping online and find just the item you’re looking for, only to discover it’s out of stock or unavailable in your size. It’s annoying, but it’s something we largely accept. After all, we can’t expect everything to be available all the time, can we?
But consider the same situation applied to gas and electricity and the world-leading levels of performance we receive from our UK gas and electricity networks fall into sharper focus.
On average, electricity customers experience a power cut only once every two years – that’s 99.992% reliability – and on average a gas customer can expect a supply interruption without advance notice only once in every 40 years.
In short, the networks that serve over 30 million UK customers are amongst the most reliable in the world.
Not only that, performance is improving all the time – for electricity distribution networks, power cuts have fallen by 9% last year and 50% in the last 15 years. Customer satisfaction is consistently more than 80%, ranking UK energy networks amongst the very best performers in the UK Customer Satisfaction Index. And all of this whilst reducing the total cost of running the networks by 17% since the late 1980s / early 1990s.
These enviable levels of performance are underpinned by astute asset management and innovation, supported in the UK by an equally world class regulatory regime.
At SP Energy Networks, our focus on strong asset stewardship has already reduced network faults due to trees damaging overhead lines in storms by up to 25% in the last decade. Innovations that enable us to produce detailed 3D models of our overhead lines and the trees near them, smart automation that allows the network to react to changes in network flows or faults in real time, and monitoring technology that helps us to locate and fix faults faster all aim to optimise performance and reduce faults on the network, even in the context of frequent storm activity.
As UK decarbonisation accelerates, increasing numbers of consumers are finding freedom in producing their own energy and are buying into low carbon technologies such as electric vehicles and domestic battery storage. Our focus is on providing the commercial and technical flexibility necessary to enable this growing group of ‘prosumers’ to realise their ambitions, whilst continuing to improve the performance and sustainability of our network.
Since the release of our vision of this network future back in October 2016, we have been active in the creation of the cross-industry Open Networks project that now seeks to radically redefine how UK networks will operate in the future.
So, the next time you sit in your warm home and check your computer for news of your long-awaited online purchase, spare a thought for the networks that provide you with gas and electricity to do so. We are very proud to provide world leading performance and are constantly working to get better and better.