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Electricity Blackouts and the Solution - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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No matter the wide array of apparent explanations, electricity blackouts are an undisputedly international problem. The unforeseen blackout of 2003 in the Northeast of the USA is still remembered as the worst of its kind seen in the modern West world. The widespread lack of electricity resulted in chaos all over the region with cities, villages, houses and offices affected. The blackout is believed to have caused heavy economic losses.

The recent blackout in India astounded the world due to its large scale and severe state. It has been reported that over 700 million people have been affected when twenty out of India’s twenty three states were left without electricity. The crisis raised fears of rebellion; people taking advantage of the vulnerable form the country is in and attempting to overthrow the government. Of course, electricity blackouts are now common events in the Arab world. They are widely documented in the press and media of various countries in the Middle East such as Egypt and Lebanon.

The rising demand and consumption of electricity has been met with a financial and administrative challenge. It is clear that the high demand by far exceeds what has been previously strategised, thus leaving the conclusion that the planning was neither realistic nor logical enough.

The ever increasing strain on electricity produced by the considerable growth and reliance on the commodity will result in the “amazement and shock” felt as a result of the blackouts becoming a staple of their lives. That is, of course, only until the electricity sector adequately develops and sufficient infrastructure is secured to meet the high demand.

Many reasons have been spouted to explain the deplorable conditions of electricity, be it in the industrial world or in the underdeveloped states of the third world. One such reason is that alternative energy is still weak and greatly limited to solar energy and windmill experiments. Furthermore, nuclear energy has been described as being too weak to achieve the desired results. An example of this is the Czech Republic’s experiment to ensure nuclear energy effectively and successfully remains the most prominent and successful energy source internationally. While it may come across as odd and surprising, independent studies have shown that the Czech Republic was more successful in their efforts than other larger states such as Germany, France, the United States and Japan. The central European country was able to achieve results that surpassed previous attempts, with high safety, proficiency and efficiency rates.

After separating from the Soviet Union and joining the capitalist world, the Czech Republic realised the importance of energy in its development plans and placed it as a clear target in which to excel. However, energy is not a simple challenge; not only is the correct structure needed for production potential, but there are also further legislations that need to be presented in order for there to be serious reduction in electricity consumption rates. Additionally, realistic incentives must be set to customers as well as investors as investor and users of alternative energy.

Wind power has been successfully implemented in parts of California and Portugal, with the state and country alike attaining great economical results. The success of alternative energy sources was continued in Brazil where great achievements have been noted, ranging from the use of solar panels to energy produced from vegetable oils.

Despite these accomplishments, several world states will not be able to cover the cost required for necessary extensions, allowing “shortages” to remain and no “complete” solution will be offered without the presence of sensible legislations and incentives that can help towards power savings.

Looking into the future, I expect to see tax and pricing incentives offers to consumers and investors in alternative energy sectors. In turn, the competition will break up the monopoly and exclusive rights of a sole company that provides a service and allow for a wider selection of energy sources available.

A crisis and challenge that will remain, we must reach farther and be more creative in our search for a solution as the old proposed “solutions” are merely a part of the problem.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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