For green energy Experts say there are many good things to come. While it is great that adequate wind, solar, and battery storage projects have been planned to meet the U.S. climate targets, a growing disruption to the country’s electricity grid is underpinning most of these projects. The problem stems from a combination of factors: aging infrastructure, a chaotic electrical grid that makes it difficult to get renewable energy from where it is produced, and the overwhelming regulator responsible for approving projects.
A new report by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory outlines the dilemma. The authors surveyed the country’s seven electrical grid operators and 35 major utilities, which together cover 85 percent of US power loads. They see that by the end of 2021, 1,300 gigawatts of wind, solar and energy saving projects have been proposed, enough to meet 80 percent of the White House’s goal of producing carbon-free electricity by 2030. “An energy revolution is happening. “The kind of power plant developers and independent power producers want to build and the kind of power plants we are claiming as customers,” said Joe Rand, LBL’s senior scientific engineering associate and lead author of the “Quueed Up,” report. Which was released in April.
But less than a quarter of the projects will be launched, Rand says, even those who have the necessary funding, approval from local authorities and agreements with utilities to sell electricity. “Our transmission systems have only been under-edited to handle this flow of new power,” Rand said.
Perhaps the biggest problem at the moment, Rand says, is that there is no easy way to figure out how to transfer renewable energy from point A to point A. Part of the problem is finding new ways to connect existing projects to the existing grid. There are many renewable planes for the number of gates at the Energy Airport terminal. “Let’s say you want to build a 200-megawatt solar farm and have a substation down the road,” says Rand, describing a typical situation facing a renewable energy developer. “No problem, I’m just going to plug in that substation. But it is not easy at all, because when you inject 200 MW or any significant power into the grid system, it will take effect. You may have to upgrade the network, you may need to upgrade the transmission line, you may need to upgrade the substation to inject that power there. “
These upgrades may include new transmission lines that can handle power surges without overheating, which can damage the line itself and reduce power over the length of the line. Of course, someone has to pay for these upgrades, and many state utility regulators are reluctant to pay the rate. At the same time, many renewable energy developers do not want to pay for upgrades that could benefit existing fossil fuel producers.
Another part of the backup comes from the reviews needed to study this maze of electrical connections. Every system operator in the country (one for California and Texas and multistate operators for the rest of the United States) must approve any new power project, be it a wind farm or a coal-fired power plant. It includes a review of research evaluating the environmental and economic impact of the project, as well as how excess energy can affect the grid, how reliable it is at peak times, and how new energy sources will respond to disruptions or bad weather.