ORIGINAL REPORTING: What New Wires Could Do
How new transmission can unlock 10 times more renewables for the Eastern U.S.; The Eastern Interconnect can handle 30% renewables within a decade, but hotly-contested power line construction will be key
Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 27, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Transmission builders now await the fate of the new administration’s trillion dollar infrastructure plan.
The Eastern U.S. grid will theoretically be able to handle 30% renewables within ten years, but only with serious upgrades to the bulk power system. The Eastern Interconnection (EI), the world’s biggest power system, delivers electricity to 270 million customers. By 2026, the proper capacity expansion will allow system operators to maintain power reliability with more than ten times the current amount of wind and solar on the system today, according to the Eastern Renewable Generation Integration Study (ERGIS). That forecast takes into account only existing technologies, but that doesn’t mean the capability will be automatic. Increasing on today’s 40 GW of wind and solar in the EI region will only make sense if there’s adequate transmission to deliver the electricity to offtakers.
Developing that dramatic increase of today's estimated 35 GW to 40 GW of wind and solar resources will only make sense if there is adequate transmission to deliver the output to EI region off-takers. Whether that will happen remains up in the air, experts told Utility Dive. The EI is a 50,000 line, alternating current (AC) system served by over 5,600 generators. Its footprint spans the U.S. and Canada, from Nova Scotia to Florida and from the Atlantic coast to the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It contains six of the eight U.S. regional reliability entities, as well as the former Southeast Reliability Corporation (SERC), which includes Duke, Southern Company, and TVA. It is not the resource but the delivery system that is the limiting factor, said Wind on the Wires (WOW) Executive Director Beth Soholt, who has spent over 15 years working for new transmission throughout the Midwest. Veteran transmission authority Roger Rosenqvist, now a vice president at ABB, agrees the lack of new wires is a real barrier… click here for more