June 23, 2011

Ultra High Voltage (UHV) Transmission Could be Our Renewable Energy Interstate

Ultra High Voltage (UHV) Transmission Could be Our Renewable Energy Interstate

John Whitney AIA

John Whitney

By John Whitney AIA

The renewable energy transformation of the United States is confronted with two serious challenges: Addressing intermittency in power generation and transmitting low cost renewable power from renewable resource rich regions to the rest of the country. In just the past three years, China has taken the lead in development of ultra high voltage (UHV) transmission lines to address both of these issues. China’s elegant, simple, and cost-effective solution to these challenges is now being implemented in Brazil and India, but in the U.S. depressingly little activity on this front can be observed.

While viable renewable energy resources are available throughout the United States, certain regions are blessed with truly remarkable renewable assets: Solar power in the insolation intense Southwest, on-shore wind generation in the windy Great Plains, hydropower in the Northwest and Northeast, and deep enhanced geothermal in the West. With constantly improving technology and steadily dropping costs, renewable energy power generation is now cost effective in many regions of the U.S. However, apologists for the conventional power generation industry continue to argue that without aggressive incentivization and subsidies, power from renewable generation sources is just too costly for most of the country. (more…)

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