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Solving the Energy Problems in Developing Countries

The industrialized nations have shown a remarkable ability to face the energy crisis of the 1970s by a combination of strategies which led in effect to the destruction of the OPEC cartel. The most important of these strategies was the reduction in oil imports made possible by the adoption of energy conserving technologies. In addition to that there was a remarkable shift from the use of oil to electricity which implies also a more efficient use of energy. While thermal cycles such as internal explosion motors used in automobiles convert only some 30 percent of the energy of the fuel into motive power in the wheels, electricity (once produced) can be converted into motive power with an efficiency of almost 100 percent. Of course the production of electricity from coal or oil goes also through a thermal cycle where energy is lost but the efficiency of conversion has been rising continuously, as shown in Figure 1. This shows the evolution of the thermal efficiency of British electrical generating stations (56 thermal power plants burning coal with a total generating capacity of 46.7 OW). In the period 1970-1985 the efficiency increased from 30 percent to 35 percent, equivalent in reality to an additional 10 mW of coal burning capacity.

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Energy Specializations: Energy Access – Energy Poverty and Equity

JEL Codes: Q42: Alternative Energy Sources, Q41: Energy: Demand and Supply; Prices

Keywords: Developing countries, Electricity generation, coal, Thermal efficiency, Primary energy use

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol11-No1-4

Published in Volume 11, Number 1 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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