New National Renewable Energy Laboratory Study Argues for Consolidating the Electric Grid to Make it Stronger

Aug 17, 2018

Over the last century, the electric grid has grown to accommodate the increasing population. The grid is currently divided into three separate, synchronized grids: the Eastern and Western interconnections, and the Texas section. A new study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) argues that this system of three separate grids is no longer the best way forward. The NREL Seam Study, recently released at the Trans-GridX Symposium in Ames, IA, contends that connecting all three grids into one single network would allow for cheaper, cleaner energy delivery.

With extreme weather becoming more commonplace, Aaron Bloom, group manager of NREL’s Grid Systems Analysis Group, lead presenter of the lab study at the symposium explains that a more interconnected grid could mitigate the effects this weather would have on the grid. Solar power collected from the Southwest, and wind power collected from the Great Plains could be sent to customers elsewhere around the country in need of power. “We can do thousand-mile lines with a massive amount of controllability,” Bloom said. “The term I’m using for it is the idea of a transmission renaissance. What if we build transmission in the U.S. as China is doing now?”

The NREL Seam Study provides several different scenarios taking into account different factors such as different construction scenarios, rising prices on various types of energy and energy storage, and regulatory and policy changes.

For further information about the NREL’s Interconnections Seam Study, click here: https://www.nrel.gov/analysis/seams.html

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