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The Global Grid — A look at connecting energy sources around the world

The Global Grid — A look at connecting energy sources around the world thumbnail

Energy is contagious

Enthusiasm spreads

Tides respond to lunar gravitation

Everything turns in synchronous relation

— Rush “Chain


What if it were possible to connect to all the energy sources such as wind and solar through a global network? A network that could convert the instantaneous energy produced in one spot on the earth and distribute it somewhere else. We know the sun shines somewhere on the earth 24/7. We know that the oceans ebb and flow like clockwork. We know that winds are prevalent at certain times of the day and year and we know windy locations such as the Sahara or Antarctica. We know that one day of sunshine can power the United States for a whole year and then some.

The difficulty with solar and wind is the ability to coordinate their energy when you need it from when and where it is produced. A worldwide grid system could solve that problem. The Global Energy Network could also be a harbinger of world peace and minimizing world poverty.

Early steps

GENI — or Global Energy Network Institute — was one of the first to organize and promote the concept of global energy transmission in 1986 (see This group is not involved in the creation or development of an energy grid but rather exists to educate and promote the value of such.

Shell Foundation, a charity of the Shell Oil Company, is laying the groundwork for such a program. It’s called “Accelerating Access to Energy” and has been going on for 14 years. I believe that sometimes the press can be unfair to the oil companies, at least, in not telling the whole story. Shell, BP and Exxon are doing a great deal of research into alternate energy, in particular solar cells, new battery materials and biofuels. Shell is looking now to off-grid systems that can aid in underdeveloped countries.

Capital to fund an infrastructure like we have here in the United States is out of the question both for cost and time. I say time because the electricity is needed right now. Many people don’t have the convenience of water piped to their homes, something we take for granted here. Electricity to pump water would be luxury to these people even today. To get there, the likelihood is that families and communities will each be producing power locally — ie solar or wind — and then connecting together. Smaller community systems could be joined together on a per-use basis via this grid. Then when such a structure yields a base for a larger system, a networked grid would be viable. It is, in a way, like the story of the “Stone Soup,” a collective single bit interest eventually creates a larger communal benefit.

Wave power is producing electricity in the North Sea; wind farms are huge in Germany, the Netherlands and coastal Ireland. What if this power could be sent to the west at night? What if Arizona and New Mexico used their vast solar networks to power the Far East which is 12 hours ahead and is in the dark? Filling this gap makes these more common forms of alternate energy value added. Why? Because the energy can be sent with minimum conversion and storage by simply coordinating need with production.

How could this be done?

It will take a Herculean effort to tie all these points together. Transmission lines would have to be laid in the ocean. The power lines must be able to withstand over a million volts and the razor teeth of sharks. That underwater cable must withstand enormous pressures of the ocean bottom. Earthquakes and volcanoes occur all the time on the ocean bottom, which means it must also be repairable. Fortunately, terrorism is more difficult to commit and if committed it would be quickly traceable and the terrorists doing it are not likely to survive. Of course, this assumes that the transmission/reception points would be impenetrable. Maybe Elon Musk Boring Company can develop a machine that will tunnel underground and carry a cable behind it.

Raising the voltage this high is necessary to handle the current over the distance, because this is the most effective way known. There is talk of beaming the energy via microwave. This, which by the way is possible, has an efficiency of 1%. Given the present efficiency of transmission, this method has a way to go.

It is interesting to point out that the energy transmitted by the sun that coincidentally warms the earth, is less than .000000001% of the energy that is originally transmitted from the surface of the sun. One may want to ponder this from a philosophical perspective: The energy provided by the sun to the earth is merely a byproduct of it nuclear fusion. The earth is not the purpose of its energy transmission. Further if the earth disappeared tomorrow, it would have virtually no effect on the sun’s transmission of energy. Satre and Camus might agree with this from one perspective and Hawking and DeGrasse Tyson from another. When it comes to physics in space, Dr. Degrasse Tyson is everyone’s personal astrophysicist.

China’s vision

About 2 1/2 years ago, China announced that it wanted to create the worldwide grid, translating into a $50 trillion investment. This system that would provide energy to every part of the world is a truly awesome endeavor. Just a month ago, China completed a 5.5 KM line under the Yangtze River. It contains the UHV (Ultra High Voltage) cable that is accompanied by several natural gas lines. It is clearly the way to go. The price tag was just under $700 million. That translates to about $230 million per mile. Multiply that by 24,000 miles (one round trip around the earth) and you can grasp the idea of just how enormous and expensive an undertaking this is. This cost doesn’t include maintenance. I think it’s more than a noble adventure; it will provide peace and prosperity to a world increasing its population 1 billion people every 12 years.


Is the Global Energy Network worth the effort? Here are the factors in considering making the global energy grid:

1) Population: We currently are not meeting the needs of the world. Two billion people are currently without steady reliable electricity, couple this with a growth rate approaching 100 million people a year, and you have a problem.

2) Bridging the political gap: This is another problem. What will it take to convince non-democratic countries of the viability of working together for the benefit of the future of every one?

3) Financial: It seems that this is an overwhelming expensive task. However, the return on investment would be considerable.

My conclusion: Focusing on the big picture, the overall economic and socio-political benefits may make this project not only profitable but a necessity. A global energy network may be just one huge factor in the survival of all the species, especially our own.

Finger Lakes Times

20 Comments on "The Global Grid — A look at connecting energy sources around the world"

  1. Darrell Cloud on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 6:41 am 

    Cornucopians are the eternal optimists. These people have never read Tainter. They do not understand the dangers of ever increasing levels of complexity. The Roman aqueduct system as robust as it was failed once the Roman Empire collapsed. We will be lucky if most of Europe and the U.S. still has electricity in 2025.

  2. Davy on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 6:45 am 

    The successful efforts of the future will be smaller in scope and simpler in design. We are seeing the limitations and the promise of renewables currently. They are not game changers but they are progress. We can make a difference with emissions and alternatives to fossil fuels but within reason.

  3. Sissyfuss on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 6:12 pm 

    Nothing will scale to the extent needed. We will be going local in the future, not global.

  4. makati1 on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 7:24 pm 

    Sissyfuss, techies don’t seem to understand scale. Just because it is possible means that it will replace today’s BAU energy as far as they are concerned. A very narrow and delusional view of reality. As you said, not going to happen.

  5. Anontarded1 on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 7:29 pm 

    greets aswange, plase enjoy

    supertard elon said to launch for “uS” military and also upcoming manned flights from both boeing and spacex vehicles.

    if u like your rd-180 u can keep it. tired of your endless “muh putin” aswang (pbuh, swt). snowden was a low level supertard in limited hangout, no big loss.

  6. onlooker on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 7:48 pm 

    Agree with you Mak and Sissy. The global civilization was a one shotthing as was venturing to space. We blew it. Back to the past if we are lucky

  7. makati1 on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 8:15 pm 

    Insanitytard has surfaced again. First to go when the SHTF. LOL

  8. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 8:16 pm 

    “Nazis. I hate these guys”

    -Indiana Jones

  9. Anonymouse1 on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 8:39 pm 

    Are you starting to drift into full-blown retarded territory there, davyturd? Be sure to tell the doctors you dislike nazis when they finally come and take you away. They might put you in the Simon Wiesenthal wing of the mental asylum if you’re lucky. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

  10. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 9:02 pm 

    Are White Nationalists Just Sexually Frustrated Lost Boys?

  11. I AM THE MOB on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 10:40 pm 

    Rudy Giuliani in Drag Smooching Donald Trump

  12. Cloggie on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 11:41 pm 

    “EU and Russia plan to interconnect electricity grids”

    “Synchronous grid of Continental Europe”

    “Roadmap EU-Russia Energy Cooperation until 2050”
    (EU commission)

    “ICOEUR (Intelligent coordination of operation and emergency control of EU and Russian power grids)”

  13. Cloggie on Mon, 8th Oct 2018 11:52 pm 

    “Nazis. I hate these guys”

    You should:

    And, they’re coming to take me away, ha, ha
    They’re coming to take me away, ho, ho, hee, hee, ha, ha
    To the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time
    And I’ll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats
    And they’re coming to take me away, ha, ha

  14. Antius on Tue, 9th Oct 2018 3:40 am 

    Long distance DC cables. 1million volts is about the limiting voltage. Beyond that, the electric field gradient starts breaking down the insulation. Superconductors are also possible if we need to transmit gigawatts of power through a single conduit over distances of thousands of kilometres. Only really practical as a land-based solution, as cryogenic cooling is required. An expensive endeavour and a politically difficult one. A desperate attempt to get around the intermittency problem of renewable energy.

    Microwave power transmission is also possible. Efficiency is not as bad as 1% – More like 50% for a single transmission. For a relay satellite in high orbit, round trip efficiency may be 25%. This sort of thing would only work if you can build your powerplant in space, using materials mined in space, as the components are kilometres in diameter and mass in the tens of thousands of tonnes. Again, an expensive and politically difficult endeavour.

    There seems to be a disconnect between the dreams of idealists and what the world is likely to be able to afford after we hit the coming Great Depression. We will struggle to afford the maintenance requirements of national grid systems. Intermittency will mean learning to go without power for at least some of the time. The good old rolling blackout.

  15. Davy on Tue, 9th Oct 2018 4:14 am 

    This is more than the technology it is about policy and economy. Both these are in bad shape today everywhere. Yea the economy is still humming along but I would challenge anyone to say it is solid and durable. Without economy we can’t produce the products. Without a healthy economy public opinion is not open to risk taking and producing new things. In a depression people want to be in less discomfort because no job, no shelter, and little food affect people’s disposition. Maybe it won’t get that bad for most people but just a slight downturn affects confidence and when confidence is reduced so is liquidity. If this goes on long enough then the velocity of economic activity declines. These technological undertakings will need a huge investment of resources and confidence. This declining economic activity then leads to economic abandonment, dysfunctional networks, and irrational policy IOW the forces of chaos. I say chaos in the scientific sense in relation to the human system.

    This is the reason I say now is the time to really focus on good technologies and better behavior. Now while the economy is basically strong enough we need to be taking on tough problems that will make the difficulties easier later. That is right, this is not going to be a happy ending like the techno optimist want us to believe but it does not have to be all doom and gloom like the doomers want us to believe. It can be manageable for many but sadly many will be triaged out of the system because of economic necessity. So many places and ways of life have no future with or without good decisions now. Many places need to be deserted and many ways of life eliminated. The natural course of things will take care of this but that could be made less painful for those experiencing economic and planetary judgment. You as an individual can get ahead of this curve. If you are in a bad location and can move then get the hell out of Dodge. If you can’t then make some preparations. There is always something that can be done. Get the deadwood out of your life and get your attitudes right.

  16. Davy on Tue, 9th Oct 2018 4:42 am 

    “PPG’s Horror Quarter Reveals The Nightmare Scenario For Q3 Earnings”

    “company earnings will most likely be stellar for yet another quarter, with 3Q EPS for the S&P500 growing by 21% Y/Y, what investors should focus on is company guidance about Q4 and the longer term especially as pertains to profit margins, with Goldman laying out three key risk factors: 1) tariffs, 2) wage inflation, and 3) interest rates.”

    “In the third quarter we continued to experience significant raw material and elevating logistics cost inflation, including the effects from higher epoxy resin and increasing oil prices,” PPG CEO Michael McGarry said in a press release on Monday after the close. “These inflationary impacts increased during the quarter and, as a result, we experienced the highest level of cost inflation since the cycle began two years ago. Also, during the quarter, we saw overall demand in China soften, and we experienced weaker automotive refinish sales as several of our U.S. and European customers are carrying high inventory levels due to lower end-use market demand.” “Finally, the impact from weakening foreign currencies, primarily in emerging regions, has resulted in a year-over-year decrease in income of about $15 million. This lower demand, coupled with the currency effects, was impactful to our year-over-year earnings and is expected to continue for the balance of the year. In other words between rising costs, slowing Chinese demand, higher inventories, and a strong dollar eating away at foreign sales, and suddenly what was the bedrock of US corporate stability is looking extremely shaky. And, as Yahoo Finance notes, “sometimes companies will flag one or two or these as weighing on business, but PPG’s third quarter was hampered by all four.”

  17. Davy on Tue, 9th Oct 2018 4:43 am 

    “IMF Slashes US Growth Outlook, Blames Rates & Trade; Sees Venezuelan Inflation 10-Million-Percent”

    The IMF said Monday that the global economy will grow 3.7 percent this year, the same as in 2017 but down from the 3.9 percent it was forecasting for 2018 in July.

    “Growth in the United States, buoyed by a procyclical fiscal package, continues at a robust pace and is driving US interest rates higher. But US growth will decline once parts of its fiscal stimulus go into reverse. Notwithstanding the present demand momentum, we have downgraded our 2019 US growth forecast owing to the recently enacted tariffs on a wide range of imports from China and China’s retaliation. China’s expected 2019 growth is also marked down. Domestic Chinese policies are likely to prevent an even larger growth decline than the one we project, but at the cost of prolonging internal financial imbalances.”

    “With their core inflation rates largely quiescent, advanced economies continue to enjoy easy financial conditions. This is not true in emerging and developing economies, where financial conditions have tightened markedly over the past six months”

    “To gauge the severity of the threats to growth, one must ask how governments could respond if risks are realized and widespread recession ensues. The answer is not comforting. Mechanisms of multilateral global policy cooperation are under strain, notably in trade, and need strengthening. Governments have less fiscal and monetary ammunition than when the global financial crisis broke out ten years ago, and therefore need to build their fiscal buffers and enhance resilience in additional ways, including by upgrading financial regulatory regimes and enacting structural reforms that raise business and labor-market dynamism. Despite the possibility of less “political space” in some countries, making consensus on sound policies harder to reach, there will not be a better time than now for positive action.”

  18. Davy on Tue, 9th Oct 2018 5:01 am 

    Looking at the next year from the energy point of view 2019 is shaping up to be challenging. With rates going up and trade tensions in full on mode we have headwinds. The front running on tariffs and Trump’s tax cut sugar highs will wear off. This makes one reflect will a degree of demand destruction occur that will curtail rising oil prices? Maybe events will overpower this lower economic impulse maybe not. The Iran sanctions and a ME are still hot and this makes one wonder might events flair especially if economic conditions deteriorate. Economic deterioration has a way of making diplomatic tensions worse. I imagine renewables will slow some too and the penetration of BEV’s into the global vehicle stock but these areas have plenty of momentum with public opinion and policy. The recent reports that have come out on the dangers of climate in a decade I imagine will spark a drive to decarbonize. Personally I don’t think we can do enough as quickly as needed on the climate. In any case any introduction of renewables into the system is good. The system is more sustainable and resilient with renewables in the mix.

    I see 2019 as the begging of a dark period ahead. For those of you who think this is just more of my doom, I say this is not true. Over the past two years I have lightened up. I am not speaking extreme doom currently about 2019. We will have to wait and see how resilient the new global economic order is. We also have to see if these trade wars remain manageable and or of hot wars flare up. This whole Russian cold war hype is very dangerous. Too many question to make a good prediction but we can say economically it does not look good.

  19. Davy on Tue, 9th Oct 2018 5:10 am 

    Belt road malinvestment:

    “Pakistan To Request IMF Bailout Over US Opposition”

    “Make no mistake. We will be watching what the IMF does,” Pompeo said. “There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars, and associated with that American dollars that are part of the IMF funding, for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself.” As we reported in July, Pakistan’s urgent need for the emergency cash came as a result of a currency crisis that saw a devaluation of the Pakistan Rupee, as Pakistan burned through a third of its reserves in the past year…”

    “Also notably, much of this carnage accelerated since the start of January which coincided with Pakistan’s decision to ditch the dollar (following Trump’s remarks) and get closer to China. Furthermore, as we reported in December, Pakistan has been contemplating the move since last month’s formal launch of the Long Term Plan for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), signed by the two sides on November 21. The CPEC is a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road initiative – the 3,000 km, over $50 billion corridor which stretches from Kashgar in western China to Gwadar port in Pakistan on the Arabian sea.”

  20. Richard Guenette on Wed, 10th Oct 2018 7:13 pm 

    Our world is becoming smaller, not bigger. We will be going local in the future, not global.

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