country, dependent position, power, electric cable, political implications, dependence,
mutually interdependent relationship, mutually beneficial, win-win relationship, excess power,
purchase cost reductions, electricity generation, buy-sell equation, utilities, connected over boundaries,
shooting yourself in the foot
The idea of running an electric cable around the
planet and wheeling power from one country to another
sounds great in theory, but it would seem to put
a nation at an energy security risk. Yet today,
100 nations trade power cross their borders.
The notion of dependence implies that one country
is subservient to another. What the energy grid
offers is a mutually interdependent relationship
that is beneficial for both sides (a win/win
An ideal trading relationship can be established
because demand for electricity varies hourly between
time zones and seasonally between north/south hemispheres.
When one country has excess power, it can be sold
to a neighbor if the price is right, benefiting
both. This is particularly true as the buying country
is able to purchase the power cheaper than can generate
The situation may be exactly reversed later in
the day, reversing the buy/sell equation
so again it's mutually beneficial. This is what
has happened between developed nations around the
world and why utilities have connected across borders.
Nobody wants to switch the circuit off because it's
like shooting yourself in the foot.
From an energy security viewpoint, there is a basic
rule of thumb with these international links
never count on your neighbor for more than you can
afford to lose. This establishes one critical reliability
criteria for system operators.