Wednesday, December 14, 2016

An energy question

Let’s suppose there are only two energy sources.  We’ll call them Energy Source A and Energy Source B.  Pound for pound – if that makes any sense since these two are very different – you can get ten times as much energy from A than B.  A lot of people would then say, “We should use Energy Source A then,” without looking any further into the matter.

But those who do look further note a few things.  A vital component of Energy Source A – the fuel, a special metal needed for the power plant, something – is located at random areas around the globe.  This means that if your country didn’t win the geography lottery and has this vital component, you have to import it.  Meaning that foreign elements could disrupt your supply of it.  Also, some countries may go to war to secure a supply of it, only to disrupt the global trading of it.  On the other hand, you could set up an Energy Source B power plant pretty much anywhere.  Does the added cost of securing the supply of the vital component of Energy Source A diminish its superiority?

Also, the normal size of an Energy Source A power plant supplies enough power for an entire city.  You could build a massive Energy Source B power plant to supply power to a city, but you could also build smaller plants that supplies power to a suburb, or a handful of neighborhoods in the city.  Some people would say that Energy Source A is clearly better because you can supply more people with more power from one plant.  But what if something goes wrong, such as a mechanical failure or even a terrorist attack?  If it happens to the A power plant, you knock out power to an entire city.  But if it happened at a B power plant, you just knock out power to a few neighborhoods. 

Given these scenarios, is Energy Source A still better than B?

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