Water & Electricity Systems | Vital Components Of The Whole Infrastructure Ecosystem:
Water & Electricity – The 21st Century Challenge:
Water and Electricity are each indispensable for sustainable life and a resilient economy. Both are essential parts of the socio-economic and technical infrastructure of any community in the modern world.
Whilst there is no shortage of water on Earth, and Electricity can be easily produced in a number of different ways, the problem faced by billions of people around the world is affordable access to a local abundance of usable water and affordable access to a local abundance of usable electricity.
Every year old and broken water systems and electricity systems require expensive repairs or replacement. Additionally, key parts of man-made infrastructures and sometimes even entire communities are totally devastated, or at least severely damaged, by droughts, fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic activity, storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and the like.
Therefore, three key questions now face all communities around the world:
- How may we best repair or replace existing water and electricity systems which are too old or broken and no longer operating as efficiently or effectively as needed?
- How may we repair major damage and devastation caused by natural catastrophe to water and electricity systems and whole infrastructures in the most efficient and effective manner?
- How might we ‘future-proof’ any new water and electricity systems or any other infrastructure sections and components, making them more resilient and long lasting, as well as being more resistant to potential catastrophic natural damage in the future?
The GPE Solution: Global Project Engineering not only provides the answers to these questions, we also provide the necessary services to install, manage and maintain truly world-class and ‘future-proof’ water and electricity infrastructure systems, to empower and help sustain any community in the world.
Water – A Brief Historical Perspective:
Human beings have been designing and constructing highly elaborate water canals, channels and irrigation systems for thousands of years. About 2000 years ago, for example, the Romans started building an extensive water transport network in various parts of their empire to guarantee the supply of water in all seasons.
In more modern times, since the 1900’s, water distribution networks have greatly expanded globally with the increase and growth of villages and city dwellings. In 1900, only 13 % of the population lived in cities. In 2005 the number was 49 %.
Generally, the water networks around the world are still managed on a local level, mainly through mini-networks.
Water – Focus On Water Management:
Quality potable fresh water has become of concern only very recently, due to public health reasons. The custom in many countries used to be to thoughtlessly dump feces, urine and toxic chemicals into rivers and near beaches, where downstream residents and children would drink and swim.
Similarly, the treatment of used water – both grey-water and blackwater – has also become an important issue relatively recently.
Currently, with the world’s attention having been increasingly focused on Climate Change (Climate Evolution) during the past few decades, major damage from floods has forced politicians, businesses and communities to also pay attention to the management and control of storm-water runoff – especially where such storm-water flood-damage has been recurring.
Water – Focus On Practices, Pricing & Value:
Pricing has little relevance to the actual value of the water we all use since, in many places, we still flush the toilets with drinkable water. Even in desert countries the relationship between price and real value is a big social question.
Electricity – A Brief Historical Perspective:
Electricity Grids are a recent phenomenon. 1850 to 1900 were the early days of electricity-supply development and the National Grid systems used around the world date only from 1938. It is apparent that the expansion of National Grids follows the urbanization of society.
In many countries or regions there is little or no competition for the production and transport of Electricity. In most cases, Electricity is managed both locally and nationally by vertically integrated Monopolies. Some monopolistic Utilities go as far as forcing politicians to pass laws to stop citizens from installing independent electricity production units, such as solar panels on the roofs of private homes.
Most importantly to note, however, is that this extraordinary effort was mostly financed by local, regional or national Public Entities.
- The Public Entities used debt to finance the construction activities.
- Private Enterprises managed the networks on behalf of the Public Community.
This trend toward privatization is a very recent phenomenon.
Where We Stand Today:
Every year we are faced with destructive floods, water rationing, droughts, broken power lines because of extreme cold, or electrical brown-outs (because the power plants must shut down) due to excessive heat.
Compounding such natural events, in this first quarter of the 21st Century we find that we have inherited a broken 19th-20th Century industrial model of centralized and vertical (siloed) electricity-supply and distribution systems. Therefore, even without the obvious impact from natural catastrophes, expanding economies and increasing urbanization over the decades has been (and still is) triggering stress in electrical production and supply and causing key-system breakdowns.
All the above calamities are happening in the most advanced economies on earth, as well as in the least prosperous economies on the planet too. Consequently, the combined effects of natural catastrophes added to old-age, plus normal wear and tear, has resulted in a yearly increase in the rate of electricity-system and water-system failures, worldwide.
We Are Facing Both A Crisis And An Opportunity:
The cost to repair and expand existing infrastructures marginally has been estimated at $3 Trillion for the USA and at more than $57 Trillion globally.
With all the above in mind, it is clear to GPE that what has been and still is missing – locally, regionally and globally – is a forward-looking and holistic systemic vision of integrated infrastructures.
The GPE Solution: Therefore, to make sense of all of this, GPE and our clients co-create and work with a very clear and holistic vision of the Whole Infrastructure Ecosystem.
Envisioning & Enabling The Whole Infrastructure Ecosystem:
The Whole Infrastructure Ecosystem includes, in the same synergistic vision:
- The Financial markets;
- The Industrial Private Enterprises builders and managers;
- The Political Establishment;
- The Government and Taxing authority;
- The World of Science & Technology;
- The Natural Environment within a sustainable ecological perspective;
- The Sociological and Economic impact on the local community;
- The long term Maintenance and Growth requirements.
Each of the above elements are explained in greater detail in The Deep Dive Section of the GPE website.
It is essential with this work, therefore, to create sustainable synergies between all parts of The Whole Infrastructure Ecosystem. What this entails, and how GPE will facilitate this, is explained below.
The Way Forward:
Infrastructures are created, maintained and operated at the juncture of Public & Government duties and Private Enterprise.
Water and Electricity are considered a basic fundamental Human Right. With this understanding it is typical for sale prices ($ / liter or $ / Kwh) to be kept at an unprofitably low level in countries around the world to make these commodities available for all citizens, rich and poor alike. In this respect the Political Establishment is fully engaged.
Most of the Public Communities, local or national, have reached their maximum level of debt. Therefore, debt-funding today, as in the past, is not a viable option.
For Governments to subsidize the price of a liter of water or of 1 Kwh is another option. However, this re-assignment of Tax income for the profit of large and profitable Global Companies, will increase the budgetary deficit of a state or nation and carry a political risk. What is involved here are $Hundreds of Billions over 20 years.
Assuming that a Private Enterprise Industrial Conglomerate could raise the amount of cash needed, it is unlikely that this will happen unless profitability is assured over the long term. In addition, the financial risk of the investment will need to be covered over the 20 years amortization period.
This is why Chairman Yellen of the USA Federal Reserve Central Bank (FED) had suggested that the FED could cover the Risk involved with the debt of the local Public Communities. It would be much more difficult for the FED to cover the Risk of the Debt of Private Enterprises.
The Global Project Engineering Solution: GPE proposes the use of a Single Purpose Infrastructure Foundation In Switzerland (SPIFIS). The choice of Switzerland is to take advantage of the management flexibility afforded by the Swiss Law. Swiss Foundations can do both for-profit and non-profit work within the same organization. The specially crafted Constitution, Statutes, Bylaws and Contractual arrangements are described elsewhere on the GPE Website.
- The SPIFIS Foundation is a Private Foundation acting as a quasi Public Entity. The SPIFIS Foundation does not have stockholders and is not subject to the tyranny of the markets. Therefore the SPIFIS can take the very long term view regarding all investments made into it or through it. It is also possible for the Foundation to receive Public Funds and or Guarantees as if it was a Public Entity.
- The SPIFIS Foundation will securely manage a very large amount of Funds over the 20 years or more duration of the Project. The SPIFIS Foundation will work through a wholly owned Captive Insurance Company which in turn will manage and increase a complex portfolio of Funds in the Financial markets. (More details elsewhere on the GPE Website).
- The SPIFIS Foundation will contract with Prime Contractors to perform the building activity of the project and / or manage the facility as required over decades or more. For very long-term projects, or projects with a high degree of technology research, the Prime Contractor will be paid on a cost-plus-negotiated-profit basis. In this manner, the Private enterprise group will be insulated from any Public Money Financial Support, and the price of Water or the Price of Electricity will not be affected by the Private enterprise Profits or Financial Markets tyranny on the quarterly reports. In other words, the Private Enterprise Stockholders will not directly benefit from Public Taxes.
- The SPIFIS Foundation can interact freely with and involve, representatives of the local Community, the Political Establishment and the Government without any risk of a conflict of interest on the part of elected officials or government officials. Any risk of abuse will be prevented by the Compliance System established through GPE. This will ensure complete and immediate transparency while preserving Banking / Financial confidentiality. The SPIFIS will manage the maintenance, systems update and renewal in the same manner.
- The SPIFIS Foundation will use a multidisciplinary approach to maximize the synergies and the benefits derived from the Holistic Management of the Eco-system including Humans, Nature and the Economy.
More detailed information on each of the above bullet-points is provided in The Deep Dive Section on this website.
If you require further information, please contact Global Project Engineering.
Global Project Engineering
1 Carrefour de Rive
1207 Geneva – Switzerland
Tel : + 41 22 735 7900