Monday, November 20, 2006

Transmission and Distribution Challenges in the UK

I speak at a number of industry events during the year and they are always an interesting meeting place for people from different parts of the energy sector and I find that in general they are a good forum for exchanging views.

I recently spoke at the Transmission and Distribution Challenges in the UK conference organised by Wilmington in Glasgow. Transmission and distribution is such an important issue, that conferences such as these present a useful way for industry members to get together and discuss the issues that are driving the sector.

In recent years many developments have remoulded the electrical supply industry, some more prominent than others. Among others, one of the items I discussed was the recent expansions of international transmission systems. These developments not only offer major business opportunities but they are increasing the efficiency and reducing the costs of electricity delivery. The infrastructure is being created to transport power over long distances from countries far away, providing levels of reliable electricity supply where they did not exist before. The total lengths of electricity transmission and distribution lines in the world are forecast to rise from 63.2 million km in 2005 to 68.3 km in 2010. Most of this is distribution but a vital small component is for transmission and an even smaller share for international connections.

The transmission and distribution market has been through a series of realignments, consisting of mergers and closures, in recent years, a process which is not yet finished. In the core market with high technology value added, three companies dominate; ABB, Siemens and Areva. Each company has experienced difficulties and undergone restructuring.

In the past, the definitions used in the transmission and distribution market have consisted of six product-based categories; power and distribution transformers, switchgear, HV insulated cables, OH bare lines, insulators and fittings and EHV towers. These categories are now changing and at the same time, while technology is expanding the horizons of transmission and distribution operation, the traditional purely “product” segments such as wires and cable remain vital to the transmission and distribution networks, which could not exist without them. Some leading industry players are competing in the more restricted high tech sectors of the market, others in specific product segments and others in both.

To read more about the challenges facing the UK Transmission and Distribution sector please download the presentation.



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