African SuperGrid

SUPERGRID NETWORK FOR SUB – SAHARAN AFRICA WITH A LINKAGE TO THE EUROPEAN SUPERGRID.

 The world has witnessed various periods of growth that have changed the life of people living in that era dramatically. Perhaps one of the most ancient is the agrarian revolution followed much later by the industrial revolution. We in the last century saw the space age, nuclear age and most recently the information age. The cell-phone for example is revolutionizing Africa as we speak in ways that previously were unimaginable. However for the technology buffs a new age is already emerging.

 The Green Energy (Electricity) Age.

 According to Terrawatts.com a new World Wide Web is emerging right before our eyes. It is a global energy network and, like the internet, it will change our culture, society and how we do business. More importantly, it will alter how we use, transform and exchange energy. Enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100% percent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. There is no energy supply problem, there is an energy distribution problem — and the emerging solution is a new world wide web of electricity.

 What is Green Electricity?

 In a very basic definition this is electricity generated by a non polluting method which is also renewable or rather inexhaustible. Today a large amount of electricity is generated using fossil fuels such as coal or oil. This has proved to be quite expensive and damaging to the earth’s atmosphere in addition to the fact that this commodities are rapidly depleting and are not universally available. This state of affairs has led to the search for clean, inexhaustible energy sources. Examples of this include but are not limited to:

 1. Solar Power

2. Wind Power

3. Hydro Power

4. Geo – Thermal Power

5. Tidal Wave Power

6. Nuclear Fusion Power.

 As you may have noticed some of these sources can be found almost everywhere on the planet most notably solar and wind. They also happen to be free. We don’t need to spend millions or billions of dollars to explore them. All we have to do is put up the generating power stations to tap into them. So the question arises why has the world not done this already?

 Problems of Renewable Energy.

 The first problem is to do with the nature of electricity itself. Electricity is a rather difficult term to define because it can be manifested in various ways and phenomena. However it can be defined simply as the flow of electrons creating an electric charge that is used to do work and can be measured in units called volts.

 Storage.

 Off-course this is an insufficient definition however it is assumed we all have some idea of what is electricity. Though some electricity can be stored on batteries the greatest problem associated with large scale generation of electricity is actually storage. In the case of solar for example it is argued that you could generate a lot during the day but have non during the night. In the case of wind you generate a lot when the wind blows but non when there is no wind. Hydro is also dependent on how much water is available, during drought it becomes difficult to generate sufficient levels. This off-course leads to fluctuations in electricity supply.

 Start-up Cost.

 Another argument is that renewable energy requires expensive initial investment to commence generation. This argument is however a little superfluous given that oil drilling and coal mining also require huge start-up costs.

 Technology.

 In some of the generation methods mentioned above insufficient technological maturity may be considered a drawback. Tidal wave generation is still in its infancy and some of the geothermal technology is still being developed. Nuclear fusion is considered a very promising energy source but the technology is still some way off to realizing safe, steady, cost effective generation. However as already indicated above there already exists solutions to this issues that may be quite easy in terms of technology to solve. This brings us to the ultimate solution known simply as:

 THE SUPERGRID.

 A super grid may be defined as a wide area network of very High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) electric transmission lines. This transmission lines would link high electricity consumer markets with large scale renewable generating power stations. The larger the geographical coverage of the grid the better it would be in terms of it’s ability to handle fluctuations caused by peak and off peak demand and surges and spikes of generation. In other words a super-grid or mega-grid could be defined as a wide area transmission network that enables the trade of huge volumes of electricity across great distances.

 NEED FOR A SUPERGRID IN AFRICA.

 Africa the second largest continent on the planet with a massive potential to generate electricity accounts for the least amount of electric generation in the world. Yet Africa has a great need to develop clean green electricity. Africa is facing a serious desertification problem occasioned by the fact that it depends on firewood for a large proportion of rural households. Africa also needs electricity for it’s new drive to get industrialized by adopting cyber technologies which could improve service delivery by increasing efficiency and even reducing corruption. A super-grid could have immediate benefits for African countries by availing it with stable, cheap and reliable electricity from Europe. In turn as Africa developed it’s generation capacity it could then sell or consume this energy locally earning some hard currency and driving down it’s own electricity prices meaning favourable industrial competitiveness. Coupled with plentiful cheap labour, favourable climate and innovation from it’s young and increasingly educated people it could lead to a rapid economic revolution.

 IMPLEMENTATION METHODOLOGY.

 The African Union (AU) has already dedicated itself to encouraging closer economic, social and political integration across Africa through the New Economic Partnership for Aid and Development (NEPAD). Cognisant of the great diversity of Africa’s peoples and different levels of development within Africa itself, it was decided to follow a regional and gradual integration process. In this regard several regional economic groupings have already been formed. In the east there is the East African Community (EAC). In the south there is the Southern African Development Corporation (SADC) and in the west there is the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and in the north there is the Maghreb Union. A lot of work is already underway within the various groupings to improve infrastructure and create attractive and conducive investment climates for business and economic activity. With regard to the super-grid this may require a combination of the two structures. Whereas regional power master plans may be useful they clearly are not sufficient by themselves to act as a super-grid and may not be geared with that in mind. This is where the African Union could play a significant role. The African Union could by acting as the chief guarantor of the Super-grid ensure that funding was secured much faster. It could also ensure uniformity and standardization of the requisite technology. The regional groupings could contribute by submitting the requisite information database for their regions and thereby contribute to the utility of the super-grid. It is also important to remember that the super-grid is a multilayered concept with many possibilities. However the African Union is composed of individual states and the idea of a super-grid would have to be proposed by either a member state or by a regional grouping for consideration. I would propose that the East African Community which is one of the areas that could benefit the most be the one to propose this innovative and transformative concept.

 Jellyfish Coolman.

 http://www.terrawatts.com

http://transnational-renewables.org/Gregor_Czisch/Home.htm

http://ewh.ieee.org/cmte/ips/2007GM/africa_mideast.pdf

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    chobiastash said,

    Neat internet site:) i will definitely come back again!

  2. 2

    Dolanonatup said,

    Nice info Hope to definitely come back again soon!

  3. 3

    jellyfishcoolman said,

    Thanks Dolanonatup I have an upcoming blog precisely on wind power. I like your low cost solutions to energy for the home. I will keep in touch with you in terms of exchanging views on how wind could power our economies in the 21st century.


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