As energy regulators in the United States express concerns about the increased risks of power outages due to storms and prolonged cold snaps, they warn of the potential impact on both the electric grid and the economy. Despite recent announcements by the Biden administration of $3.5 billion in grants for clean energy projects aimed at combating climate change and promoting renewable energy, obstacles such as mounting costs, development delays, and regulatory challenges could hinder progress.
In a recent episode of Accelerating Energy, host Ken Irvin, a Sidley partner, sat down with Larry Gasteiger, Executive Director of WIRES, a nonprofit trade association that advocates for investment in the North American electric transmission system. Together, they explored the challenges and opportunities related to energy transmission as the United States aims to electrify its economy and enhance the resilience of its grid.
One of the major issues discussed was how to balance economic growth with environmental sustainability. While renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are becoming increasingly popular, their adoption can be expensive and slow due to factors such as intermittent supply and storage needs. This can make it difficult for utilities to meet growing demand while also keeping costs down for consumers.
Another topic covered was how to address infrastructure issues related to energy transmission. With increasing reliance on renewable energy sources that are often located far from population centers, there is a need for more efficient ways to transmit electricity over long distances without losing too much power along the way. This requires investment in new technologies such as high-voltage direct current (HVDC) lines or smart grids that can adapt to changing conditions in real time.
Overall, despite these challenges, there are still many opportunities for growth in the energy sector as countries around the world continue to shift towards cleaner forms of energy production and consumption. By working together to find innovative solutions that balance economic growth with environmental sustainability and grid resilience, we can create a more sustainable future for generations to come.