If you began today, and the grid had the same priority
as the space race, the grid (including intercontinental
linkages) could be finished in ten years.
Regarding the western hemisphere interconnection:
Yes, the ten year time frame is certainly possible.
President George W. Bush is the first US President
to ever use the words "national energy grid", which
included strong interties with Canada and Mexico.
There are already 100 links between the US and Canada,
but just a handful between US and Mexico. With the
NAFTA and President Fox's endorsement of the GENI
Initiative, we anticipate further US/Mexico integration
in the next few years.
Central America is working on their own integrated
system through SIEPAC, and last month Columbia began
pursuing the interconnection to Mexico to sell their
excess hydropower to an energy hungry Mexico City.
In July, 1999, all South American energy ministers
met and pledged to build the interconnected energy
grid throughout all of South America.
With this in place, the 10 year time frame in the
Western Hemisphere is doable if the political will
stays the course. The challenge is that our chaotic
world will create new priorities that shift attention
and resources from important long-term needs
Regarding the eastern hemisphere interconnection:
The Eastern Hemisphere is a much bigger area, population,
and number of countries. Yet a few examples highlight
- China has committed to the creation of a national
- The ASEAN nations have made a similar pledge.
- The Gibraltar Strait underwater cable is now
energized selling power between Morocco (Africa)
to Spain (Europe).
- The Gulf States Cooperation Council (5 nations
alone the southern Persian Gulf) are finally moving
forward with their interconnection plan.
- ESKOM of Southern Africa has a plan that includes
an HVDC/HVAC interconnected system for all of
Africa similar to what the Egyptian energy
minister wanted 8 years ago.
- Europe (UCTE system) and the Scandinavian nations
(NORDEL system) are already fully linked, expanding
into the former COMECON nations after the fall
of the Berlin Wall in 1989. East and West Europe
were almost completely integrated a decade later.
Many political hurdles, civil wars, and cultural
differences get in the way of sound engineering
projects especially in Africa, the Middle
East and SE Asia. Yet new lines and underwater cables
are being laid every day -- as the demand for energy
is projected to double and even triple in the next
50 years. Is the eastern grid doable in the next
20 years? Yes, if the players continue making it
In 1990, only 50 nations bought and sold power
across borders. Today, 100 nations trade electricity
with their neighboring nations. There are still
another 100 nations to go. The trend is strong for
grid interconnection between all nations.