A Crisis in Power — First the U.K., then the U.S.

By April 8, 2008Energy

An observer of the United States energy scene visits London and see the future. No future? Well, England’s dreaming.

Even today power is short in particular in London; the situation will grow more dire as the years go by and localized plants are decommissioned; it is unimaginable that new sources of serious generation will be built anywhere near London or the left would go bonkers. The likeliest courses of action is that over time businesses that aren’t forced to be localized (retail, financial services) will bolt London for other parts of the country where the power situation isn’t so terrible. Local businesses will likely start to rely more and more heavily on backup power as the grid becomes more unreliable (on peak days it can fail overall, but it is more likely to just become less reliable over the years).

I don’t know how people can go on consuming electricity and products that require electricity and just pretend that adding new generation isn’t an option; while conservation is useful and perhaps even some localized elements like solar can help they aren’t sufficient for a serious, first world economy unless rotating blackouts a la Nigeria are viewed as OK. Of the options, nuclear emits the least greenhouse gases and new, modern coal plants are quite efficient and emit far less noxious compounds than their predecessors. While these 2 options clearly are not without flaws, they have to be part of the solution else reliability will just crater over time and inefficient local solutions will have to jump to the front.

Nigeria, um? South Africa seems a more relevant comparison.

South Africa’s power crisis may last many years unless there is a sustained drop in electricity demand in Africa’s largest economy, state power utility Eskom said on Wednesday.

The warning came as Eskom, which produces about 95 percent of the nation’s electricity, resumed a wave of planned power cuts and South Africans grew increasingly impatient with an energy crunch that has shaken industry and investor confidence.

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