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Electric Power Distribution in the World: Today and Tomorrow



In light of the increasing importance of distributed energy resources (DERs) in the electricity system, there is an ongoing need to understand the current status of electric power distribution across the world. This review paper compiles key information about the distribution systems in 175 countries worldwide. The findings for each country include the number, legal structure and ownership of distribution system operators, the access to electricity they provide, distribution level voltages, electric power frequency and the significance of renewable electricity generation. This study covers 99.4% of the world’s population. As of June 2018, there are around 7600 distribution system operators in these 175 countries. After reviewing today’s distribution system status, this paper also reviews the various discussions and proposals for tomorrow’s electric power distribution. The discussion covers both system operation and market platform roles as well as data management options for DSOs in the near future.

Suggested Citation

  • Kufeoglu, S. & Pollitt, M. & Anaya, K., 2018. "Electric Power Distribution in the World: Today and Tomorrow," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1846, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1846
    Note: mgp20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Paul Nillesen & Michael Pollitt, 2011. "Ownership Unbundling in Electricity Distribution: Empirical Evidence from New Zealand," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 38(1), pages 61-93, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marius Buchmann, 2019. "How decentralization drives a change of the institutional framework on the distribution grid level in the electricity sector – the case of local congestion markets," Bremen Energy Working Papers 0031, Bremen Energy Research.
    2. Nillesen, P. & Pollitt, M., 2019. "Ownership Unbundling of Electricity Distribution Networks," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1905, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    3. Michael Pollitt, 2019. "Competition in Markets for Ancillary Services? The implications of rising distributed generation," Working Papers EPRG1928, Energy Policy Research Group, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
    4. Lisa Bagnoli & Salvador Bertomeu & Antonio Estache & Maria Vagliasindi, 2020. "Are the Poor Better Off with Public or Private Utilities ?A Survey of the Academic Evidence on Developing Economies," Working Papers ECARES 2020-24, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item


    distribution system operator; DSO; market platform; transmission system operator; TSO;

    JEL classification:

    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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