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If all the power plants of an industrialized country like (Germany, France, Italy, Korea) are destroyed how long would it take for the country to rebuild its power grid and get back to normal functioning?

Under assumption that foreign countries are willing and able to help the devastated country with both with technology and credit

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    $\begingroup$ Depends on what "destroys" means. Some of these plants might be nuclear and destroying them comes with major long term problems. Also does destroying mean the infrastructure gets destroyed as well. And note that basically all commerce, industry and most agriculture will fail, so the problems go way beyond power. Just keeping people alive would be a major problem. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Apr 22 '18 at 9:57
  • $\begingroup$ It entirely depends on what caused the destruction. Because no one is going to rebuild anything until they have some explanation for how it was destroyed in the first place, and a way to avoid it happening again. $\endgroup$ – Mike Scott Apr 22 '18 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ I assume you are referring to a cyber attack coming form Russia? $\endgroup$ – Vincent Apr 22 '18 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ How were they destroyed? What exactly was destroyed? Is the country in any other states of emergency (such as war)? These can all change the answer drastically. Please add some background to your question so tat we can give better answers. $\endgroup$ – Rick M. Apr 22 '18 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ Iraq had a reasonable power infrastructure before 1990, it was significantly damaged in the first Iraq war, and still isn't up to first-world levels despite being occupied by the US with near-infinite money for reconstruction. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_Iraq $\endgroup$ – pjc50 Apr 22 '18 at 19:38
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Power plant != power grid.

If you mean only all the power generation plants where destroyed, than it take really little time to rebuild the grid since, all the national grids are already connected (Italy for example already has connections to all the neighboring nations power grids). In this case the power grid will be up and running again in some days, but the nation will be 100% dependent on imported energy for many years

If you mean that only the power grid is destroyed, than it takes months, if not years, to rebuild it, depending on the level of destruction: if only the large transport lines are destroyed, then, in a couple of years, it is possible to rebuild them (but not assured you will do it), if you mean 100% of the grid, which is all of the above, plus the small line that arrive to your home, than you are out of luck, it'd require many years.

If you mean that all the power plants and distribution grid is destroyed, you need years (at least a couple of decades) to return to the previous level, assuming you will be able to survive such an event without other problems: no energy -> no food conservation AND production -> you need to import also the food, for example. Think like a "Berlin Blockade" in the 1948 extended to a nation to have a hint of what it means.

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Rebuilding more than a relatively small number of power generation plants is a very slow process.

The plants are like any large industrial building and would take at least a couple years to build as a crash project.

The generators themselves are not off-the-shelf items. There are only a few companies that can build them and they are ordered years in advance. There's a certain amount of slack in the system -- generators which are under construction for other countries -- and if the rest of the world tightens its belts and stops new power plant production for a while and diverts those generators, there's some hope of a quick fix. But this diminishes rapidly the larger the number of generators that must be replaced.

Large transformers are another long-lead-time item and have essentially the same timing issues as the generators.

So, for a small country, we're talking a few years and the larger the devastated area, the longer the delay.

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A few years ago, I would have given an answer like Mark Olson's. But while batteries are not included, they can be added. Look at Puerto Rico. The grid was essentially destroyed. Tesla and other companies, Tesla being the most highly reported for various reasons, have brought in a lot of solar power with battery backup. Battery backup is no longer just for the occasional big power outage. It is also enables solar, wind & other intermittent power sources to be used 24/7. It also enables more and more users to go off-grid, or even better to be off-grid when necessary but use the generally cheaper grid when the grid & the power plants supplying the grid are working properly.

End result: In the near future it is possible that Tesla, the US government, etc. could step in and air-drop enough small systems (small generators, solar power systems, small wind turbines - all with battery backup) into another country to get at least key infrastructure (hospitals, schools, water treatment, military) up and running long before the traditional power plants can be rebuilt.

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The mean construction time of a nuclear power plant is 7.5y. As of 2015, 18 out of 441 reactors worldwide were completed in 3y. – euanmearns.com.

Construction time for a coal fired plant is around 4y. – www.iea.org

You can't handwave money in this situation. Offer the supplier $1M for a part that costs 100k and it will be on your doorstep tomorrow morning if you order it before 5pm.

It doesn't matter if manufacturing and the supply chain can't keep up. Somewhere in the world the needed part exists, however it's likely installed and in use, but like absolutely every commodity on the planet, it's just waiting for some sucker to exchange it for 10x its worth.

Anything on Earth can be somewhere else on the planet in 24h, with 24h notice... and your checkbook.

Equally implausible is the US parking every nuclear powered craft in their fleet just off your coast. It depends on how long it takes to hook up to your grid and convert it to your country's power type, but they can all be there in less than 24h too.

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  • $\begingroup$ (1) I strongly suspect you'd have to offer more than 10x the price of the various items, as you'd essentially be transferring the problem onto someone else. Sure if everyone chips in it'll be less of a problem for any particular location, but it'll still be a problem to cut off potentially hundreds of thousands of people from electrical power, and that's assuming that the part can simply be disconnected and moved with no other major effects and no large preparations. (2) Not everything on Earth can be somewhere else on Earth within 24 hours, especially if you want it to be useful at (...) $\endgroup$ – user Apr 22 '18 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ the receiving end. Moving very large pieces of equipment takes planning and, sometimes, heavy equipment. It might need to be dismounted or disassembled. Especially in the latter case, it likely needs to be reassembled before it can be used. Special considerations may need to be taken as to the location where it is installed. (3) Ships are slow. At 60 knots (which is fast for a large water vessel, which is where you're likely to find easily movable nuclear reactors), you're traversing 60 nautical miles per hour (that's the definition of "knots"), or about 110 km/h -- that's highway car (...) $\endgroup$ – user Apr 22 '18 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ speed. Best case you'll be about 2600 km away after 24 hours. That's a respectable distance, but nowhere near the potentially 20,000 km to get half way around the world, and that's ignoring the fact that you'll have to go around landmasses and it's assuming that the reactor can simply be plugged into a national power grid, which doesn't seem likely. As the sticker says, "some assembly required". $\endgroup$ – user Apr 22 '18 at 19:46

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