Tackling The Power Problem

Power is the foundation on which a modern, civilized society is built. Technology, which is proffered as the basis of so many solutions to humanity’s problems, requires power to operate. Without electricity, lights won’t light, appliances won’t operate, computers won’t compute, heaters won’t heat and air conditioners won’t cool . . . and the list goes on and on.

You would have thought that, by 2023, the world would have solved the power problem. Instead, the problem seems to have gotten worse. Many of the 54 countries in Africa, for example, are experiencing terrible and chronic power problems that leave millions of people without power at all and others struggling with rolling blackouts, power grid collapses, and the need to conform their schedules to power availability. The problem is traced to limited and aging infrastructure that isn’t capable of reliably supplying power that meets the needs of people in the modern world.

Of course, power problems aren’t limited to Africa. Two of the most populous states in the U.S.–California and Texas–have experienced widely publicized power issues in recent years. Last year, California’s power grid was so taxed by a heat wave that residents were told to reduce their electrical use or face rolling blackouts–a situation that awkwardly arrived only days after California’s announcement that residents must transition to electric cars that are estimated to require the state to triple its existing power generation capabilities. The California power situation is so dicey that the state reversed its position on closure of its only remaining nuclear plant, which supplies 9 percent of the state’s power. In Texas, where many residents were left without power during a crippling winter storm in 2021, legislators are currently debating proposals to make the power grid more reliable.

These examples reveal an easily overlooked truth: power generation is one of those basic points that should always be on the agenda for modern governments. Before edicts are issued requiring people to buy and drive electric vehicles, or purchase smart technology, let’s make sure that we have sufficient power to reliably supply all of these devices–and let’s also look ahead at how the demands on our power generation capabilities and power grids will be equipped to handle the expected demand five, ten, or twenty years into the future. Nuclear power plants, hydroelectric dams, and offshore wind farms don’t get built and linked into power delivery systems overnight.