Predictions for 2024: U.S. grid may triple in size to support decarbonization. Federal action and grid-enhancing tech are crucial.
The transmission grid, a key component of our power system, is facing a critical juncture. As we move towards a more clean-energy future, the transmission grids across the U.S. need to double or even triple its current scale. This expansion is necessary to accommodate the growing demand for renewable energy and ensure its seamless integration into our existing power structures.
However, the expansion of transmission grids has been stymied by various conflicts. Issues over siting have triggered local opposition, permitting has been mired in regulatory complexities, and funding has been inadequate. As a result, the growth pace of our transmission grids has been slow. To meet the ambitious emissions-reduction targets set by clean energy advocates and the Biden Administration's zero-carbon grid goals by 2035, this pace must more than double.
To overcome these challenges and accelerate the growth of transmission grids, strong federal action is needed. Major grid reforms should be initiated to simplify and expedite the processes involved in grid expansion. State utility regulators and regional grid operators can also play a pivotal role in this regard. They are key decision-makers when it comes to building new power lines and can help facilitate grid expansion. In addition, grid-enhancing technologies can be employed to boost the efficiency and capacity of existing transmission networks, reducing the need for extensive new construction.
The implications of grid expansion are far-reaching. Achieving a zero-carbon grid by 2035, for instance, would require the installation of 75,000 miles of new high-voltage lines. This extensive expansion is crucial for rapidly decarbonizing our power systems and meeting the clean energy objectives set for the next few decades.
As we look towards 2024, it's time to rally behind grid expansion efforts. We must advocate for robust federal policies and reforms that can expedite transmission growth. We should also support state-level initiatives aimed at reforming transmission and endorse the adoption of grid-enhancing technologies. Our clean energy future hinges on these crucial steps.
Source: "Could 2024 Be a Breakout Year for the Transmission Grid?" Canary Media, Link
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