Transmission infrastructure fails to keep up with renewable energy purchases
U.S. companies are turning increasingly to renewable energy, but a new report from the Wind Solar Alliance (WSA) shows that their input may also be needed in the transmission planning process as the old infrastructure likely cannot keep up.
“Companies buying affordable, clean energy today are benefitting from yesterday’s transmission plans,” WSA Executive Director John Kostyack said. “To meet their sustainability targets for the next decade, and to make low-cost renewable power accessible for themselves and other customers, they need to join efforts to jump-start a new era of transmission planning.”
In the past year, U.S. companies bought up nearly 4 GW of utility-scale wind and solar capacity, breaking a previous record set in 2015, at nearly 750 MW. The Corporate Renewable Procurement and Transmission Planning: Communicating Demand to RTOs May Yield More Low-cost Options report asserts that more than 100 corporate buyers want to see 60 GW capacity purchased by 2025.
“Transmission expansion is already falling short of what is needed to meet future corporate demand for wind and solar,” said David Gardiner, president of David Gardiner and Associates and co-author of another report on renewable energy published earlier this year. “Large corporate buyers want access to the least expensive wind and solar resources, most of which are located between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River, far from most business operations. We need to step up our efforts to build transmission to deliver cheap, clean wind and solar power to America’s factories, data centers, and stores.”
The WSA laid out a number of options companies can take going forward. For one, they could join regional transmission organizations. They could also collaborate with transmission planners through develop transmission lines or pay so-called “green tariffs.” Working with trade and advocacy organizations to better shape the grid is another option. The alternative is a lack of new infrastructure to supply demand, something that will stunt renewable growth in years to come.
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