A look at the problems faced in rebuilding Iraq’s Electrical Power grid.

Glenn Zorpette has written an excellent summary of the challenges faced by electrical engineers who are trying to solve Iraq’s electrical energy crisis. The writeup is very thorough and really sheds some light on the why these problems don’t “just get fixed” despite the amount of money thrown at them. Diagrams and maps are included.

“It’s a lot of men, guns, and hardware for a routine meeting at a power plant. But the statistics bear out the caution. As of this past November, at least 412 civilian contractors had been killed in Iraq, according to U.S. Department of Labor figures cited in a recent report to the U.S. Congress. Scores more had been injured or kidnapped and released. The contractors included all kinds of workers: engineers, security agents, truck drivers, even cooks.

To put the figures in perspective, there are well over a thousand engineers in Iraq working on reconstruction, [see “Who’s Minding the Contractors?”] several thousand if you include military and Iraqi engineers. About 2000 of some 3200 projects have been completed, according to U.S. government figures released this past autumn. The projects range from the refurbishment of schoolrooms to the construction of airfields and huge new transmission substations. As of fall 2005, the United States had spent or committed more than US $20 billion to the effort, other countries had pledged $13.6 billion, and Iraq itself had contributed about $24 billion, including seized assets of Saddam Hussein.

It would be hard to find another endeavor, anywhere, anytime, in which so much was asked of engineers, personally and professionally. Never before has so vast a reconstruction program been attempted in the face of enemy fire or managed in the shadow of geopolitics, where infrastructure itself became a battleground.”

Go have a look at the Spectrum IEEE website, you’ll come away elightened by your effort.

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