It Ain't Necessarily So!
Those things that you're liable to read in OPTIONS do not always lead to the correct conclusions.
Because we often quote from it our readers may know that OPTIONS is a quarterly publication of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Both IIASA and its publications are highly respected, and we usually applaud their work. However, I heartily disagree with the conclusions which must be drawn from an article in the June '93 issue entitled "Global Energy and Climate Change".
The crux of my disagreement stems from the statement, "It is difficult to see how demands for more energy AND lower C02 emissions can be achieved without a comprehensive revitalization of the world's nuclear industry."
Difficult, yes, because only current systems of generation and distributions of power am considered in the article. Not considered is the fact that available power from existing generation Systems can go a long way - literally - toward fulfilling needs for some time to come with only a change in the method of distribution.
Some 20 years ago Buckminster Fuller, seeing electricity as the common denominator of all societal infra-systems - food, shelter, health care, sewage, transportation, communication, education, finance - believed that highest priority should be given to delivering sufficient electrical power to people in all parts of the world. To this end he proposed the linking of power generation sources worldwide into a global electric energy network. While such a system in its entirety is still years away, technological advances over the past two decades have made the linking of power sources and sinks through international and inter regional networks practicable today.
Thirty years ago, the efficient transport distance for electric power was only 600 kilometers. Now technical breakthroughs have extended the efficient distance of ultrahigh voltage (UHV) transmission to 6500 kilometers for direct current, and 4800 kilometers for alternating current. A system using such technology would allow for power interchange between East and West (day and night) and Southern and Northern (sources and sinks) hemispheres.
So Why Don't We Do It?
This observer has sometimes been accused of over-simplifying complex problems in an attempt to clarify the essential points. In this case I do so again, then follow with an article that gives more detail for those who are interested.
To me the essential points are:
Any cost/benefit analysis of the linkages required to make up a global network that considers only the near future will most likely doom the project. And although such a network would greatly benefit the developing countries, to see it in the proper light the analysis must be made with consideration for our children and grandchildren.
If you find the foregoing too brief, or biased, I suggest that you read the following article for more details.
If ever there was a proposal that cried out for a simulation evaluation it is GLOBAL ENERGY NETWORK INSTITUTE (GENI). Please let me know what you think, pro, con, or variations on the ideas presented.
If you don't think its important ask your children.
Herewith our edited version of an article given to us by Peter Meisen and published in Power Generation Technology [Sterling Publications International Ltd., London]. Because of space limitations we are unable to include all figures and tables that appeared in the original or any of the 17 references.
Please direct communications to: John McLeod, 8484 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, California 92037
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