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Why should another country put itself in a position where it's dependent on another country for its power?

Key Words:

country, dependent position, power, electric cable, political implications, dependence, mutually interdependent relationship, mutually beneficial, win-win relationship, excess power, purchase cost reductions, electricity generation, buy-sell equation, utilities, connected over boundaries, shooting yourself in the foot


The idea of running an electric cable around the planet and wheeling power from one country to another sounds great in theory, but it would seem to put a nation at a security risk. Yet today, 100 nations trade power cross their borders.

The notion of dependence implies that one country is subservient to another. What the energy grid offers is a mutually interdependent relationship that is beneficial for both sides (a win/win relationship).

An ideal trading relationship can be established because demand for electricity varies hourly between time zones and seasonally between north/south hemispheres. When one country has excess power, it can be sold to a neighbor if the price is right, benefiting both. This is particularly true as the buying country is able to purchase the power cheaper than can generate it themselves.

The situation may be exactly reversed later in the day, reversing the buy/sell equation — so again it's mutually beneficial. This is what has happened between developed nations around the world and why utilities have connected across borders. Nobody wants to switch the circuit off because it's like shooting yourself in the foot.

From an energy security viewpoint, there is a basic rule of thumb with these international links — never count one your neighbor for more than you can afford to lose. This establishes one reliability criteria for system operators.

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