Sunday, August 20, 2006

Integrated World Electric Grid

During the Jimmy Carter Administration when the U.S. and the then Soviet Union were still very much engaged in the Cold War, Buckminster Fuller became aware of a technological development that provided an opportunity to optimize the generation of electricity.

Having just gained the ability to economically transmit electricity across distances approaching 1,500 miles Fuller proposed creating an integrated world electric grid by connecting the U.S. and Russian systems via the Berring Straits. (GW)

“We must integrate the world’s electrical-energy networks. We must be able to continually integrate the progressive night-into-day and day-into-night hemispheres of our revolving planet. With all of the world’s electric energy needs being supplied by a twenty-four-hour-around, omni-integrated network, all of yesterday’s, one-half-the-time-unemployed, standby generators will be usable all the time, thus swiftly doubling the operating capacity of the world’s electrical energy grid.”

"In the early years of Trudeau's premiership of Canada when he was about to make his first visit to Russia, I gave him my world energy network grid plan, which he presented to Brezhnev, who turned it over to his experts. On his return to Canada Trudeau reported to me that the experts had come back to Brezhnev with: "feasible . . . desirable."

R. Buckminster Fuller. Critical Path. Page xxxi

In 2003 Wired Magazine ran a story entitled "Power Up!" That piece noted that:

Some 30 years ago, Buckminster Fuller came up with a plan to plug all the world's continents into the same electrical grid. The idea was to let power flow between, say, Siberia and the northwestern US, or Norway and Laos. Energy companies dismissed the notion as pie in the sky - and then proceeded to build such a grid. To get the most use of their generation capacity and to maintain an emergency reserve, power companies found it efficient to connect their grids to their neighbor's, who then connected to their neighbor's.

Plans for European Supergrid Announced

August 2006

Europen Union energy developers are well ahead of the U.S. in developing their renewable energy resources -- especially wind. Airtricity is exploring the intriguing premise that
large scale grids that transcend different weather systems may effectively address the troublesome issue of intermittency that critics often point to as wind technology's greatest shortcoming.

Renewable energy company Airtricity has proposed to develop a European Offshore Supergrid, bringing together the latest technology in wind generation and electricity transmission to provide a secure, sustainable and uninterrupted supply of electricity to EU member states. Airtricity is a leading international renewable energy company specialising in the development, construction and long-term ownership of onshore and offshore wind farms.

Europe faces the prospect of being caught in an ‘energy crunch’ within the next 20 years. The depletion of finite indigenous resources, political risk and increased global competition, in particular amongst the US, India and China, are factors which threaten Europe’s security of energy supply.

Europe has some of the world’s richest wind resources and advances in technology have made the process of converting wind to electricity more effective and commercially competitive. Airtricity’s vision is to harness this natural energy resource by creating a European Offshore Supergrid located in the seas of Northern, Western and Southern Europe.

By connecting and integrating geographically disperse wind farms across Europe, each experiencing a different phase of the region’s weather system, electricity is produced wherever the wind is blowing and transported to regions of demand, ensuring a reliable and predictable source of energy.


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