*take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2015

Who is Online

We have 103 guests and no members online

Translate to another language

Infrastructure

As we left Taipei we gazed out in amazement.  Here was a city the size of Sydney with highways and trains and electricity transmission that would surpass the collective infrastructure of every city in Australia.  And as we drove on into the country it didn’t stop.

Advanced fast trains cutting across the countryside and advanced six lane highways, many elevated, for miles on end. Vast new residential areas all very modern and some expensive looking low-rise lower density living.

There are also many planned industrial zones or ‘parks’ in which modern medium to large businesses, particularly in electronics,  are established.

The use of concrete is both extensive and in the mountains spectacular.  We’ve passed through a series of tunnels on a par with those in Switzerland – many several kilometres long – linked by roads held aloft by a forest of long concrete columns.

 

 

When travelling, I always look at the electricity transmission for an indication of technological sophistication.  Here there is a very extensive high voltage grid. Almost all towers are set on rather bizarre, but functional, square concrete bases that are themselves held up by a single concrete pillar that can be: adjusted for height; safely hold associated high voltage hardware; and even be placed mid-stream in a river. Many lines appear to be running at 500KV or more.

In urban areas local distribution is almost entirely underground but transformers are often on elevated stands painted green and often partially hidden by trees,

The American influence is obvious everywhere. But they seem to prefer to think it is Japanese.  Since 1971 the Americans (US) are out of favour, despite calling petrol ‘gas’ and using US electrical standards, unlike China.  But like China they do, of course, use metric distances weights and measures.

Against this sophistication, the standard of commercial wiring, very visible on the outside of many older buildings, is quite often atrocious. Maybe it is associated with minimal regulations to encourage enterprise or the relative safety of 110V.  But when voltages are halved currents are doubled, so I imagine electrical fires in these establishments are quite common.

As one would expect, there are a great number of small to medium businesses, many set within residential areas – very mixed development and short lines of supply. 

Once out in the countryside agriculture becomes the principal economic activity.  The predominant crop on the fertile plains of the west is rice interspersed with sugar cane and bananas as well as small orchards of other fruit – beautifully laid out like parkland and very attractive seen from above on our elevated highway.

From time to time superfast trains can be seen speeding past.

Once the Americans had deserted them in 1971 they would need to stand on their own two feet. Chiang Kai-Shek’s son Chiang Ching-kuo took some economic advice and, unlike his father, accepted modern economic theory supporting free enterprise, competition and free markets.  

At around the same time Japan needed a low cost place to manufacture. Quite a few people still spoke Japanese and Taiwan was well placed.

Taiwan’s inadequate infrastructure was identified as holding the economy back.

Thus Chiang the younger’s ‘Ten Major Construction Projects’ plan. But how to pay for it?  According to Clint, our guide, Chiang realised that Taiwan had an unusual asset – china’s gold reserves.  These could provide security for loans of hundreds of billions of dollars.  This allowed the following list to be implemented:

  1. National Highway No. 1
  2. Electrification of Western Line railway
  3. North-Link Line railway
  4. Chiang Kai-shek International Airport
  5. Port of Taichung
  6. Su-ao Port
  7. China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSBC) Shipyard, Kaohsiung
  8. China Steel factory
  9. Oil refinery and chemical industrial park
  10. Nuclear power plants (eventually three)

Steelmaking and shipbuilding began the economic miracle but soon electronics was identified as a developing industry and more industrial parks were founded together with some world leading research facilities.

 

 

 

Add comment


Security code
Refresh


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

Japan

 

 

 

 

In the second week of May 2017 our small group of habitual fellow travellers Craig and Sonia; Wendy and I; took a package introductory tour: Discover Japan 2017 visiting: Narita; Tokyo; Yokohama; Atami; Toyohashi; Kyoto; and Osaka.  

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

The new James Bond

 

 

It was raining in the mountains on Easter Saturday.

We'd decided to take a couple of days break in the Blue Mountains and do some walking. But on Saturday it poured.  In the morning we walked two kilometres from Katoomba to more up-market and trendy Leura for morning coffee and got very wet.

After a train journey to Mount Victoria and back to dry out and then lunch in the Irish Pub, with a Cider and Guinness, we decided against another soaking and explored the Katoomba antique stores and bookshops instead.  In one I found and bought an unread James Bond book.  But not by the real Ian Fleming. 

Ian Fleming died in 1964 at the young age of fifty-six and I'd read all his so I knew 'Devil May Care' was new.  This one is by Sebastian Faulks, known for his novel Birdsong, 'writing as Ian Fleming' in 2008.

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

Renewable Electricity

 

 

As the energy is essentially free, renewable electricity costs, like those of nuclear electricity, are almost entirely dependent on the up-front construction costs and the method of financing these.  Minimising the initial investment, relative to the expected energy yield, is critical to commercial viability.  But revenue is also dependent on when, and where, the energy can be delivered to meet the demand patterns of energy consumers.

For example, if it requires four times the capital investment in equipment to extract one megawatt hour (1 MWh) of useable electricity from sunlight, as compared to extracting it from wind, engineers need to find ways of quartering the cost of solar capture and conversion equipment; or increasing the energy converted to electricity fourfold; to make solar directly competitive.

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright