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The economic impact of electricity losses


  • Maria Teresa Costa-Campi

    (University of Barcelona and Chair of Energy Sustainability, Barcelona Institute of Economics)

  • Daniel Daví-Arderius

    (University of Barcelona and Chair of Energy Sustainability)

  • Elisa Trujillo-Baute

    (University of Warwick and Chair of Energy Sustainability, Barcelona Institute of Economics)


Although electricity losses constitute an important, but inevitable, amount of wasted resources (and a share that has to be funded), they remain one of the lesser known parts of an electricity system, and this despite the fact that the decisions of generators, transmission and distribution system operators and consumers all impact on them. In this paper we analyse the effects of such losses from two perspectives: from that of consumption or outflows and from that of generation or inflows. Given that end-user consumption varies across the day, consumption has direct implications for electricity losses. Indeed, demand-side management policies seek to encourage consumers to use less energy during peak hours and to reduce network congestion. At the same time, from the perspective of generation, the recent growth in distributed generation has modified the traditional, unidirectional, downward flows in electricity systems. This affects losses as energy is produced in the lower voltage network, which is closer to points of consumption. In this paper we evaluate the impact of consumption patterns and different generation technologies on energy losses. To do so, we draw on data from a real electricity system with a high level of renewable penetration, namely, that of Spain between 2011 and 2013. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to analyse the real impact of consumption and the effect of each generation technology on energy losses, offering an opportunity to evaluate the potential benefits of demand-side management policies and distributed generation. Based on our results, we make a number of regulatory recommendations aimed at exploiting to the full these potential benefits. Our results should serve as a baseline for countries that are in the early stages of implementing these policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Teresa Costa-Campi & Daniel Daví-Arderius & Elisa Trujillo-Baute, 2016. "The economic impact of electricity losses," Working Papers 2016/4, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  • Handle: RePEc:ieb:wpaper:doc2016-4

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    Cited by:

    1. Daví-Arderius, Daniel & Sanin, María-Eugenia & Trujillo-Baute, Elisa, 2017. "CO2 content of electricity losses," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 439-445.
    2. Savian, Fernando de Souza & Siluk, Julio Cezar Mairesse & Garlet, Taís Bisognin & do Nascimento, Felipe Moraes & Pinheiro, José Renes & Vale, Zita, 2021. "Non-technical losses: A systematic contemporary article review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).
    3. Costa-Campi, Maria Teresa & Davi-Arderius, Daniel & Trujillo-Baute, Elisa, 2021. "Analysing electricity flows and congestions: Looking at locational patterns," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 156(C).
    4. Mikhail A. Averbukh & Nikolay A. Zhukov & Stanislav V. Khvorostenko & Vasiliy I. Panteleev, 2019. "Reducing Electric Power Losses in the System of Power Supply Due to Compensation of Higher Harmonics of Currents: Economic and Energy Efficiency Outcomes," International Journal of Energy Economics and Policy, Econjournals, vol. 9(4), pages 396-403.
    5. Costa-Campi, Maria Teresa & Davi-Arderius, Daniel & Trujillo-Baute, Elisa, 2020. "Locational impact and network costs of energy transition: Introducing geographical price signals for new renewable capacity," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 142(C).
    6. Felipe Moraes do Nascimento & Julio Cezar Mairesse Siluk & Fernando de Souza Savian & Taís Bisognin Garlet & José Renes Pinheiro & Carlos Ramos, 2020. "Factors for Measuring Photovoltaic Adoption from the Perspective of Operators," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(8), pages 1-29, April.

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    More about this item


    Regulation; networks; energy losses; distributed generation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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