Successfully transitioning the United States to low‐carbon electricity will require an improved
transmission infrastructure. Cities don’t grow where there’s too much wind. The best solar is far from us in our deserts.
We need to build a supergrid like the national highway system we built in the 1930′s. But a new study finds that this might be almost impossible to do in this country. A historical legacy of Balkanized ownership of multiple tiny grids and ineffective regulatory structure has hindered upgrades to and expansion of the U.S. transmission network.
In these political times of political hysteria against any kind of national common good, it will be hard to overcome a legacy that grew out of our rugged individualism.
By contrast, China and Europe have easily added more renewable power, by socializing the grid.
A national grid solves intermittency
An interstate transmission corridor solves wind’s intermittency. The wind is always blowing somewhere. Simultaneous lulls in wind across the country hardly ever happen. So if we connect the sites, if Texas has a sudden lull, then North Dakota can fill in. Long distance interconnection lets unsynchronized peaks and troughs to cancel each other out; stabilizing wind’s contribution to the general grid.
Susan Kraemer writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate and GreenProphet and has been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design she brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention: solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times. Follow Susan @dotcommodity on twitter.