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Saturday, June 14, 2008


Following yesterday's article here are figures in billions of $ & kilowatt hours for GDP & electricity consumption of the world, the EU & the top 23 countries.

Note that, as in golf, a high score is bad since it means the economy has an ever more constricting bottleneck in electricity production, at least in countries where subsistence farming is not common:

State -----------GDP-------Electricty--wealth for 1 kwh
1 World--------------$ 65,610--------16,830------$3.90
2 European Union-----$ 14,380---------2,820-----$5.10
3 United States------$ 13,840---------3,816-----$3.62
4 China---------------$ 6,991---------2,859-----$2.45
Note that China is now producing more electricity than the entire EU this is a historic & worldshaking change
5 Japan---------------$ 4,290-----------974-----$4,40
6 India---------------$ 2,989-----------488-----$6.12
7 Germany-------------$ 2,810-----------545-----$5.16
8 United Kingdom -----$ 2,137-----------348-----$6.14
9 Russia--------------$ 2,088-----------985-----$2.12
10 France-------------$ 2,047-----------451-----$4.54
11 Brazil-------------$ 1,836-----------368-----$4.99
12 Italy--------------$ 1,786-----------307-----$5.82
13 Spain--------------$ 1,352-----------243-----$5.56
14 Mexico-------------$ 1,346-----------183-----$7.34
15 Canada-------------$ 1,266-----------540-----$2.34
16 Korea, South-------$ 1,201-----------368-----$3.26
17 Turkey---------------$ 888-----------129-----$6.88
18 Indonesia------------$ 837-----------108-----$7.75
19 Australia------------$ 760-----------219-----$3.47
20 Iran-----------------$ 753-----------136-----$3.84
21 Taiwan---------------$ 695-----------221-----$3.14
22 Netherlands----------$ 639-----------108-----$5.91
23 Poland---------------$ 620-----------120-----$5.17
24 Saudi Arabia---------$ 564-----------147-----$3.83
25 Argentina------------$ 524------------89-----$5.89

and trying a few smaller countries with either high growth or particular power situations:

Ireland------------------$186-------------24----$7.75 Could be trouble
Israel-------------------$186-------------43----$4.33 Difficulty in importing
Singapore----------------$228-------------36----$6.33 Small overcrowded island
Iceland-------------------$12--------------8----$1.50 Hydro & geothermal
Bangladesh---------------$206-------------19---$10.84 Basket case
South Africa-------------$467------------241----$1.94 Use a lot in mining?
Norway-------------------$247------------114----$2.17 Lots of hydro
Afghanistan---------------$35------------0.8---$40.00 Hmmm

So the vast majority of big economies have a productivity within $1.50 per kwh of the world average of $3.90. The Chinese ration is at the very bottom of this distribution & Russia, with plentiful supplies of everything even lower which suggests both have the potential for massive growth, which indeed is what they have been achieving. Brazil, Indonesia & India are high but all are undeveloped. Bangladesh even moreso. Climate seems to have little effect with Singapore on the equator being a low user but nearby Australia being a high one. What is clear is that countries with large resources of power & where it is presumably fairly cheap use a lot of it & countries in the EU where we are all "environmentally conscious" but not conscious of much else, use relatively little.

Because the really poor countries have little electricity the average figure for developed countries may be different. Taking an average of the US, China & Japan (top developed non-EU economies) we get $3.49 productivity per kw which may be a good figure to aim for.

As you will see the UK figure of $6.14 is pretty disastrous, making us 3rd worst among the worlds 23 biggest after Indonesia & Mexico, both undeveloped & not visibly going anywhere & thus worst in the world among large developed economies. If I was running Mexico I would be inviting US companies to build lots of reactors south of the border, which I suspect they would do for free if promised 1/3rd of the power would go north. Note that the top 23 make up over 77% of the world economy). It looks like the constant Green assurances that we can do fine by just conserving won't cut it.

What this means is that if we could produce power at the cost of 1.3p a unit as France does with nuclear we could easily double our electricity usage, I would bet on quadruple & get our economy into the ranks of the world's fastest growing.

To do this we need to do 2 things

1) Build new nuclear - If we were to complete 6 new 1,000 mw reactors a year (which probably means starting 12 a year for 8 years & assuming they will take 4 years to build) we would be increasing our production by 10% a year, which would allow us the potential for comparable growth. This does not mean 12 new sites - you can put as many reactors as we want on current sites - Britain is a geographically small country so transmission losses are not the problem they would be elsewhere.

2) Don't let the "environmentalist" Luddites load these reactors down with immense bureaucratic costs. Professor Bernard Cohen has written on how reactor costs were artificially multiplied perhaps 10 times by regulation in the US & it is quite obvious that the eco-fascists here intend to use prolonging enquiries, violence& regulations to make everything many times more expensive & delayed than need be. We know it is possible to produce power at 1.3p a kilowatt hour because it is being done in France. And to build within 3.5 years because Westinghouse have said they can. Any delay & cost beyond that is going to cost us dearly & probably lead to blackouts. It is the prime duty of government to protect against enemies, domestic & foreign & allow people to carry out their business in freedom. I absolutely defend the eco-fascist's right not to use nuclear electricity themselves, though I know of none who do, but it is government's duty to ensure they do not deprive the rest of us of electricity & prosperity.

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I don't know the regulations now, but about 30 years ago we were in the position that the Government assumed that a unit of radiation in a nuclear power station was much more dangerous than the same unit, of the identical sort of radiation, in a hospital. Brilliant!
I don't know either but`since nuclear power stations now release orders of magnitude less radiation I would expect it was even moreso.

On a newspaper discussion on decommissioning somebody who had been involved said that they had been forced to bring in limestone chips to cover the ground at Dounreay because granite ones would be to radiactive.
Mexico is not the undeveloped country you make it out to be. American companies make cars, appliances and a lot of other things down there. I think one of Dell's suppliers from South Korea located some kind of small plant down there, right across the border from Texas. General Electric stopped making mid-sized transformers for power grids a about a decade ago and they sold the machinery to a Mexican conglomerate named Xignux. Xignux now makes transformers, which GE markets in the US under its own name. Based on my reading, Mexico is most advanced around Mexico City and in the northern part, with the countryside getting more backward the farther south you go. If I had to make a wild-ass guess I would say that one in five, maybe one in three Mexicans can function at the White level, maybe higher maybe lower.

Mexico operates two boiling water reactors too.

After the California power screw up a few years ago private companies began building coal and gas fired power stations in Arizona in the hopes of selling the output at high prices to Cali. After the Cali market settled down the local weekly rag the Phoenix New Times ran a column speculating that AZ would instead become a power farm for Mexico.

Either way, the list is hiding a few things.
No fixed line between developed & undeveloped & countries are always moving up or down compared to the average as all the fuss about China no longer being undeveloped & thus having to make CO2 cuts (no chance) show. I still believe it would be a no-brainer for the Mexicans to build nuclear plants & sell electricity to California (mind you I believe it is a no-brainer for Californians to do the same).
I think Arizona exports electricity to Mexico and California.

California has been importing power for several decades now because of the power of the ecos and the NIMBYs. Because of this stupidity denizens of California pay about 50% more for electricity than I do.

On a related note, I can email you my last bill if you want, so can see for yourself what I pay down here.
Where does Arizona's electricity come from - is it nuclear?
About a third of AZ's electricity comes from the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant. Most of the rest is generated from fossil fuels or hydro.

The bill is on the way.
Apart from the hydro I thought it might be like that. Is that hydro from Boulder dam?
Our hydropower mostly comes from dams on the Colorado river, including Hoover (Boulder) dam. There also a few dams east of the valley.

Almost all remaining power that does not come from Palo Verde or the dams on the Colorado river is made from gas or coal. I think that less than 1% of our power comes from solar, or other eco approved sources, which is amazing considering how much sunlight we get.
Your problem with hydro is the opposite of Scotland's. It gets power by multiplying the amount of water by the drop. We have more water you have more drop.

The real problem with solar is that it is great if you need power during summer days but not wintyer nights. Actually I suppose you usually need air conditioning more than heating. If we had the worldwide grid in my Big Engineering section it might actually work. bhere is no problem with energy that is not caused by politics - but then that applies to so many things.
In order to generate enough power to supply America we would would have to build a square solar power plant 90 miles on each side in southern California. I doubt that there are exotic materials that could transmit such power to the East Coast without losing 90% of the power in transit. Considering that certain parts of southern California are salt flats and wastelands there shouldn't be problem, but I'm sure they would find something to nitpick.
With High Voltage Direct Current losses can be 3% per 1,000 km
Though I assume there are losses at the transformers at each end this still compares well with normal local losses.

The cost of solar power collection is falling quite sharply as the units get thinner & lighter.
Quebec has a massive hydropower project called the James Bay project near the arctic circle. The dams up there transmit most of their power 4-600 miles south by 750kV three-phase power lines, which wiki stated lose (I think I remember correctly) 6% of their power. However, hydropower there is so cheap that the losses are probably irrelevant.

I wouldn't support a single national grid because of the possibility that it may fail. I would prefer to have regional grids in order to keep failure contained. As it is, the US has three interconnections (independent grids): east, west, and Texas. Each is so big that failure in one can spread across many states.
6% is nothing in those terms. Transmission losses in Scotland's local grid is about 8% & I assume would be similar for you. he thing about hydro is that the cost of constructing dams has little relation to the amount of electricity produce but depends on location. Canada has a lot of rivers. Another use for them would be but apparently the eco-fascists consider water in Arizona unnatural.
The real benefit to DC would to have the US grids converted to DC from the generator to the neighborhood. Once the power got to the overhead wires that supply my block, then it could be inverted to AC. There are DC to DC voltage converters that would make such a grid possible.
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