Here's the final section of my paper on electrification that I wrote for the Alliance For Responsible Citizenship
What must be remembered about South Africa, is that pre 1994, Eskom electricity generation in South Africa, a developing country, was 1st world, and suffered none of the problems it has suffered since 1994.
Eskom generated arguably the most reliable and cheapest electrocity on the planet, with some of the most modern technology of the period, and had planned reserve capacity.
Eskom was also at the time, Cadh flush and financed its own capital projects despite being a State Owned Enterprise.
That all changed with the advent of our new "Democracy/Kleptocracy" in 1994 which has brought Eskom and the Country to its knee's with Eskom now having a Debt burden of ZAR450 Billion, approx $25 billion, and a shortfall both in reliability of generation, as well as a capacity shortfall.
South Africa has retrogressed from a 1st world developing country in 1994 to a stagnant 3rd world country in 2023.
I'm convinced that governments and NGOs are purposefully preventing these undeveloped and impoverished nations from developing. We see these big donors of NGOs and politicians (Gates, Schwab, etc.) constantly talking bout reducing population, consumption, emissions, and creating some kind of global society where everything you do is controlled and monitored by people who determine how you are allowed to live your life. As soon as these countries start increasing GDP, developing their economies, reducing poverty, and increasing their standard of living you will have countries containing some of the largest populations on Earth becoming more independent and free then at any point in their history, resulting in some of the largest percentages of Earth's population becoming increasingly difficult to control.
Another problem in third world countries mentioned, and others that are attempting to develop a stable economy and reliable energy is the persistent conflicts from outside groups. Most on the energy front want a share of the oil and gas revenue and will use force to achieve it. At times the military will be the culprit, but these upheavals cause multiple risks to the stability of the country and especially to any reliable power whether from the shut in of producing wells, and pipelines, refineries, power plants, and the grid itself. As mentioned Lebanon is in a devastating economic crises. The worst in recent history. Like the other countries mentioned, its electricity is erratic and subject to a 2 tier system of payment to government and generator mafias and the public itself doesn't feel the need to pay. Which is self-defeating for keeping up with necessary maintenance and having a system of enforcement.
Now, Lebanon is becoming embroiled in the war with Israel as its terrorist group Hezbollah joins in the conflict with Hamas. What is unfortunate is that an offshore drilling platform has just arrived in Lebanon in September to develop Lebanon's natural gas resources. The oil and gas consortium of Total,ENI and Qatar will not continue operations if Hezbollah expands its bombing of Israel. Chevron just shut down its natural gas field offshore Israel. And it should be noted that in August, 2023 after 23 years of discussions, Egypt, Israel, Palestine and Hamas reached an agreement for the Gaza Marine offshore development by Energean, the company that is developing Israel's offshore Karish and Tania oil fields for Chevron. But 6 weeks after Hamas accepted the Gaza Marine deal it attacked Israel.
We always hope for bringing the third world out of poverty with access to reliable electricity, but the corruption of governments, with corrupt leaders and conflicts that never seem to subside in the long term, it seems that the best technologies along with the risk takers willing to stay knowing they will face known and unknown conflicts and government instability might be able to sway the public? Who knows and who will try.
Understanding situations and technologies is so much more important than proclaiming any "correct" solution, i.e., one based on a political or deficient moral basis. Thanks for furthering this discussion and helping us understand better.
A power cooperative in the usa isn't a microgrid. A microgrid is a standalone island, there are very few of these in canada or the usa except remote areas, like northern settlements in canada.
Cooperatives are generally just a marketing thing but all integated into the same grid.
All about who you pay for your power.
GREAT SERIES ROBERT - this one in particular is very moving. Energy is Life, Prosperity, Abundance
The region of the country I live in has had microgrids, or something very similar, for close to a century. We get our power from one. They're called Rural Electric Cooperatives. Without them, large swaths of rural America would have never been electrified, at least not in a way that provides reliable power to the people at affordable prices.
Graft and corruption are not issues because governance is not carried out by either government bureaucrats in distant agencies or far away corporations focused on maximizing profits and executive salaries. Instead, co-op directors are local residents (and power consumers) elected by the rest of the membership. Further, these individual distribution co-ops have teamed up to create their own power generation co-ops, which in my system operates (or purchases from outside) a mix of ~35% coal, 30% natural gas, 20% nuclear, 10% landfill gas, and, increasingly, solar, some of which is local solar farms and some is mounted on the roofs of co-op members, who get paid for the power produced. Note the focus on reliable baseload generators.
The generation coop also owns some of the large transmission lines that distribute power to the local distribution systems of the individual co-ops, i.e., the microgrids.
Further, by law, coops are required to return excess profit to members (beyond what is needed to maintain the system). The result is that my cost of electricity at the point of use is among the lowest in the nation - current retail price averages ~11 cents/kwh - while system reliability is among the highest.
The cooperative model might be a good one for some of the developing countries mentioned in Robert's book and articles. People tend to take ownership when they have skin in the game. The challenge is getting the seed money to initially capitalize these systems. Ours came from the Rural Electrification Administration created by FDR's New Deal. Something like that would require a sea change in some of these developing nations dominated by entrenched interests and sectarian divisions. In fact, I'm skeptical that such a democratic power system could be created today even in this country, given the divisions and the death grip corporate America has on the body politic.
Maybe "Green" started out as sincere and honorable, but it's become the largest vehicle of corruption in the world.
Who picked up the Thai Binh Two financing after Barack Obama denounced it? Almost certainly China.
The proposition that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is the climate's "control knob" is clearly wrong, so why are we agonizing over it? To line the pockets of Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.
CO2 was 2,500 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere 150 million years ago. It declined on a nearly straight trajectory at -14.6 ppm per million years, to 280 ppm in 1750. Plants die at 150 ppm, and then everything else on Earth dies too, except bacteria, viruses, and maybe some fungi. When would that have happened? In about nine million years. The increase to today's 415 ppm has extended the Earth's lease on life to eighteen million years. How is it being removed? Marine plants and animals convert it to limestone via skeletons and shells. Eliminating CO2 emissions is *exactly* the *wrong* thing to be doing. We should be burning coal and making cement as fast as we can. This is all explained in Chapter 3 of "Where Will We Get Our Energy?" A preprint is linked at http://vandyke.mynetgear.com/Whence-Energy.html.
The refusal of the Western countries to finance the building of fossil-based power in Africa is ignorant at best, counterproductive at worst. There are collateral benefits from expansion of baseload power: Less deforestation and wood-burning for cooking, more industrialization which in the long run reduces birthrates to a sustainable level, which subsequently reduces CO2 emissions. The correlation between birth rate and industrialization is strong.
If you look at the countries that are perceived least corrupt / greatest per capita electricity generators it is interesting to note that they tend to be associated with large amount of hydro generation. These are projects which more or less can only be carried out with large amounts of government oversight (which isn't to say that there isn't necessarily plenty of corruption that can occur, particularly during their construction I suppose).
Re: The group explains that “In emerging markets, PPAs are typically negotiated, signed, and implemented behind closed doors. Greater PPA disclosure will improve governance, attract sustainable investment, and ultimately expand clean power while providing citizens with reliable, lower-cost electricity.”
It's ironic that PPAs for US offshore wind are secretly negotiated by utilities, suppliers, subsidizers, state utility agencies, RTOs, etc
Robert if you want a State side example, look at Redding California. For almost 100 years the utility kept reasonable rates and paid it's employees. After a new City Manager took over suddenly there were police officers, firemen, and city hall office staff on the payroll of the electric utility. City projects like bridges were being paid out of the electric enterprise fund. As the money dried up most of the experienced staff left, the line department became ineffective. At this point I am not sure how it could come back as so much has been lost.