Skip to content

HVDC Power grids: just the latest demonstration of human interdependance

April 12, 2011

A story in the Guardian today highlights the latest venture to trade energy across national boundaries – and in particular the wet stuff that makes the UK the strange island nation it is (BritNed power cable boosts hopes for European supergrid). The article tells the story of a new High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) cable laid between Holland and the UK, the significance being that HVDC transmission loses less power than conventional Alternating Current (AC) systems, making long-distance transmission practical – a key ingredient in any renewable mix, since the wind always blows somewhere, as the sun always shines on half the world. The potential for endless renewable (and non-polluting) energy is boundless – nobody is expecting the sun to go out any time soon or the tides to turn one last time – and the future of energy generation is as exciting and challenging as fossil fuels are limited and damaging. It is also the case that we have barely scratched the surface of such potential, made rather too casual and complacent by the ease with which we could suck oil and gas out of the ground, with little effort and tremendous potential profit. Those days are over.

The usual suspects turned out to make a few fact-free contrarian noises about windmills etc, remarks that were as predictable as they were cynical. The knee-jerk cynicism seems so routine, almost Pavlovian, I wonder if it isn’t just more projection – bitter old people, beaten images in their mirrors, tired and apparently defeated in their aims and ambitions. All they have left are their complaints and contrarianism, and rather too much time to contemplate their ‘failures’, for surely nobody who has had a fulfilling life, a rewarding life, can be so compulsed to share their disillusion and despair without some leavening of hope and satisfaction, without some notion of a future that isn’t perpetually bleak and threatening?

Curious too how those who are so routinely dismissive of renewable concepts and environmentalism are often those who want to drag population elephants into the room. Given the burgeoning global population and the limited terrestrial energy sources available, one wonders where the contrarians think the energy is going to come from, if not from far reaching and brave alternatives like Desertec.Actually, I’m struck by a pattern here. After WW2, we saw the emergence of the both the UN and multi-nationals, a joining up of politics, trade and commerce on a truly global scale, after the unfortunate examples of two global conflicts. As money tries to join up every country and institution, so other paradigms must follow e.g. the EU, World Bank, GTO etc – all of which impinge on that most sacred of conservative notions, the nation-state. The latest manifestation of this process is, of course, anthropogenic climate change – the latest aspect of capitalism to ignore all boundaries and demand joined-up, pan-national solutions.

In my life, I’ve seen the gradual erosion of ’empire’ thinking, the loss being nothing like the disaster the foolish nostalgics claimed for it. A joined up world economy leads inexorably to a deterioration in the power and reach of any nation, as nationalism is subsumed by internationalism. We have reached a condition of interdependence which sees our food, energy, materials, skills and markets so thoroughly homogenised, there is no room left for nationalism, no time left to indulge in separatism, insufficient profit in domestic markets alone.

Energy supplies are following the same path as everything else. We’re all in this together, and the sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we can find solutions to the problems that now affect us all, no matter where we are or what we do. The contrarians are right: we are heading toward globalised economic and energy infrastructures, because that’s where our relentless greed for consumption and profit has lead us. Too late to complain about it now.

Advertisements
3 Comments leave one →
  1. King In Yellow permalink
    April 13, 2011 4:24 pm

    “The usual suspects turned out to make a few fact-free contrarian noises about windmills etc, remarks that were as predictable as they were cynical. The knee-jerk cynicism seems so routine, almost Pavlovian, I wonder if it isn’t just more projection – bitter old people, beaten images in their mirrors, tired and apparently defeated in their aims and ambitions. All they have left are their complaints and contrarianism, and rather too much time to contemplate their ‘failures’, for surely nobody who has had a fulfilling life, a rewarding life, can be so compulsed to share their disillusion and despair without some leavening of hope and satisfaction, without some notion of a future that isn’t perpetually bleak and threatening?”

    Even by their standards, it was sub standard fare. A confused miss match of Juch, nationalism, luddite-ism (is that a word ? it is now !) and capitalism.

    They’re painting themselves into a very destructive, dark, anti science, anti technology, well anti everything corner that denies everything not just AGW. A strange mentality to say the least.

    All the best.

  2. King In Yellow permalink
    April 13, 2011 4:25 pm

    Sorry, JuchE

  3. mark houghton brown permalink
    April 27, 2011 12:40 am

    Yes – globalised infrastructures seem commonsense.

    There is still hope!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: