A big factor limiting solar and wind power growth across the US is the current transmission network. It is disconnected. A new project proposed by Tres Amigas LLC in New Mexico would link the nation’s main power grids and, therefore, give hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of households links to already existing renewable energy sources.
New Mexico Public Lands Commissioner Patrick Lyons states: “One of the biggest constraints on wind and solar power growth is the reduced capacity of the transmission grid to deliver energy to customers. This new transmission infrastructure will allow half of the United States to access vast wind and solar energy resources.”
In addition to the reason above, this project is a particular boost for renewable energy because there are many renewable energy facilities located far from population centers and not connected to grids where their energy could be used. This project would look to connect many of these to grids where renewable energy sources are lacking.
Over the next couple of years, Tres Amigas will be performing analyses to try to prepare for such a project. After that, they hope to build a “Superstation” near Clovis, New Mexico.
Other efforts to try to improve the availability of renewable energy through current power grids is by developing “smart grid” technologies. But this Tres Amigas project is a separate factor in that it would connect more grids together rather than upgrading grid technologies.
Solving the issues of our current grid is an intricate topic (see: US Must Socialize Grid to Add Renewable Energy, Study Finds) but this step by Tres Amigas could be exactly what is needed to move us forward on this.
Other leading countries have fully connected their grids in recent years, and in a year or less! We should be able to connect ours eventually as well, shouldn’t we?
Keep an eye out for this project in the coming years. Hopefully, it will bring renewable energy to millions of households in the near future.
Image Credit 1: pfala via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 2: maxw via flickr under a Creative Commons license
Image Credit 3: pfala via flickr under a Creative Commons license