een wereldwijd elektriciteitsnet een oplossing voor veel problemen  GENI es una institución de investigación y educación-enfocada en la interconexión de rejillas de electricidad entre naciones.  ??????. ????????????????????????????????????  nous proposons la construction d’un réseau électrique reliant pays et continents basé sur les ressources renouvelables  Unser Planet ist mit einem enormen Potential an erneuerbaren Energiequellen - Da es heutzutage m` glich ist, Strom wirtschaftlich , können diese regenerativen Energiequellen einige der konventionellen betriebenen Kraftwerke ersetzen.  한국어/Korean  utilizando transmissores de alta potência em áreas remotas, e mudar a força via linha de transmissões de alta-voltagem, podemos alcançar 7000 quilómetros, conectando nações e continentes    
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The Bulletin of
Volume 17, Number 4

Linking Electricity for Peace: A Compelling Global Strategy
by Peter Meisen, President, GENI

The Materials Research Laboratory
The Pennsylvania State University
University: Park, PA 16802 USA
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Science, Technology and Society Ideas

Buckminster Fuller on the Global Energy Grid

"Graphs of each of the world's 150 nations showing their twentieth century histories of inanimate energy production per capita of their respective populations together with graphs of those countries' birthrates show without exception that the birthrates decrease at exactly the sane rate that the per capita consumption of inanimate electrical energy increases. The world's population will stop increasing when and if the integrated world electrical energy grid is realized. This grid is the World Game's highest priority."

Critical Path, 1981. Fuller and Kuromiya


Peter Meisen

East and West Germany connected two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Israel and Jordan initiated interconnections after the Washington Declaration.

Now electrical inter-ties are also planned between North and South Korea and between Turkey and Iran. As former enemies tear down their walls, they are also building important economic bridges — electrical energy bridges. The reasons are many, but simply stated, the electrical interconnection of power systems offers tremendous economic and social benefit to both parties.

The linking of electrical grids between countries and across continents has proven to increase'' energy efficiency, reduce pollution, increase trade and provide the basic infrastructure of developing nations — supporting clean water, health care and refrigeration systems. And the need for these exchanges has never been greater.

According to the 1996 Annual Report from the World Resources Institute, World Bank, United Nations Environment and Development Programs, our current population of 5.7 billion will grow to 8.3 billion by 2025, 90% of this growth in the urban areas of developing countries with two-thirds living in mega-cities. increasing greenhouse gas emissions and critical water shortages. This is not the world to leave our children, and it's not sustainable. But what other choice do we have?

Over two decades ago, the United Nations and inventor, scientist and mathematician, R. Buckminster Fuller proposed interconnecting regional power system into a single, continuous world electric energy grid. The objective? "To mate the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or the disadvantage to anyone."

Why electricity? Because it is the common denominator of all societal infra-systems: food, shelter, health-care, sewage, transportation, communication, education and finance — in short, modem civilization. The goal is to deliver sufficient electrical energy for every human — and to do it sustainably.

Fifty years ago, electric power could only be efficiently transmitted 400 miles. During the 60's, breakthroughs in materials science extended this transmission distance to 1500 miles. This allowed the utilities to interconnect across time zones and compensate for variations in seasonal demand. This buying and selling of power is now common in all developed nations, as utilities desire to level the peaks and valleys of energy demand to save costs and increase reliability.

Today's technology for electrical transmission now extends thousands of miles — far beyond any political boundaries. This allows power interchange between North and South hemispheres, as well as East and West across continents.

Unfortunately, 82% of all power generation today is non-renewable (coal, natural gas and nuclear), resulting in many of the world's environmental ills — greenhouse gases, acid rain, toxic wastes. Yet enormous potential for hydro, tidal, solar, wind and geothermal sites exists around the world. These renewable resources are site specific and oftentimes remotely located, but now are within economic transmission reach. Much of the world's abundant renewable energy potential exists in the developing countries of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Tapping these sources of clean energy can elevate everyone's quality of life.

Not surprisingly, the United Nations in 1971 also corroborated the need to interconnect regional power grids, tapping remote renewable resources. Dr. Fuller identifies this strategy as the highest priority objective" for the planet. Old Cold War politics used to suppress these international transmission projects. No longer, as enlightened self-interest is beginning to lead foreign policy.

Billions of dollars are presently being saved through shared power, and already some of the future demand can be met from wheeled electricity. As deregulation and privatization of utilities proceeds, many new generation options also become available, whether locally based or in neighboring countries.

Savings are reflected in smaller electric bills and expanded markets for power producers — a massive win-win situation.

A key environmental question in the first world economies is the replacement choice for present polluting capacity as the economic life of these generators expires over the next few decades. As peak power generation is often purchased from a neighboring utility, the most inefficient, expensive and polluting generators can be phased out.

Today, in first world economies, end-use efficiency is the priority. On the other hand, we must remember that someone living in poverty meets her daily survival needs first, and environmental concerns later in the developing countries demand-side management is difficult when their energy requirement is increasing.

As a part of the solution, efficiency improvements are vital, but not sufficient for the future growth trends.

The World Energy Council projects a doubling of primary energy demand globally in the next twenty-five years as developing countries grow, both in population and economically. The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) now confirms the greenhouse effect, which will worsen if the "business as usual" scenarios prevail. European insurance companies and banks have seen damage claims triple in the last decade, and they are now committed to funding renewable project. The challenge for developing nations is to bypass the old growth models and move directly into sustainable development.

The potential of power transmission technology to the developing world is immense. Exports of excess capacity can be purchased by the industrialized world, providing cheaper and cleaner power for the North, and sending needed cash to the South. For example, Maher Abaza, Egypt's Energy Minister proposes an integrated African, Middle Eastern, European network that encircles the Mediterranean Sea.

Comparative trend analysis shows striking improvements in all major societal indicators as electricity becomes available for developing societies. When food and health care systems can be sustained, infant mortality rates decrease, as do birth rates. When fewer children die from hunger related causes, fewer "insurance births" are required to ensure care for the elderly. Projections with statistical merit show trial the population explosion would plateau and widespread hunger would end when the energy grid is place.

In fact, research shows the energy threshold for a society moving from daily survival to decent living standards is about 2000 kWh/capita/year. (By comparison, the U.S. average is 12,000 kWh/person/year, and Europeans use half that amount.) Today, over 2 billion people in developing counties live without any electricity at all. They lead lives of misery, walking miles every day for firewood and non-potable water just to survive. What's needed today in most smaller villages are small decentralized generators that can meet basic food, water and health-care needs. Then as development demand increases, these villages can connect into the expanding grid network.

Of critical consequence for the planet, you, and I, are the energy decisions being made today by India, China and Southeast Asia. Over half the world's present 5.7 billion population lives there now, and linking renewable resources is required if we are to reduce atmospheric emissions in the future. Leading to the Earth Summit in 1992, Noel Brown of the United Nations Environmental Program called the energy grid strategy "to be one of the most important opportunities to further the cause of environmental protection and sustainable development"

As a high-tech global initiative that benefits everyone, the energy grid development is ideal, and, since international cooperation is required, political tensions and fears are diminished. In "Megatrends", John Naisbitt suggests that peace is enhanced when friend and foe trade with one another. Already over 50 nations are linked with neighboring countries, predominately throughout Eastern and Western Europe, North America and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Today, we have a viable technology, that when developed to its highest potential will:

  • increase universal living standards
  • promote international cooperation and peace
  • reduce fossil fuel demand and the resultant pollution
  • relieve the population explosion
  • reduce world hunger and poverty
  • slow deforestation, topsoil loss, and the spreading of deserts
  • open new markets and enhance world trade
  • encourage energy efficiency and sustainable development

These interties transcend political differences being economically and environmentally beneficial for connected regions. Given the capital, resources and engineering expertise required, these projects could also lead the economic conversion of some industries idled by Cold War cutbacks.

Bureaucracy, selfish nationalisms and ignorance remain as barriers. Yet in building mutually beneficial power networks, these recent breakthroughs in cooperation between long-time enemies offer hope for a more peaceful and healthy world.

Peter Meisen is President of Global Energy Network Institute (GENI) and can be contacted at:

World Trade Center of San Diego,
1250 Sixth Ave, #901, San Diego, CA 92101

Tel: 619-59S-0139     Fax: 619-595-0403
Email:     World Wide Web:



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