The future of transmission in energy infrastructure can be a divisive topic. Some believe the projected boom of Big Transmission was misleading, while others believe that the industry should no longer invest in electric transmission at all.
Yet, transmission continues to be a major driver of economic growth and affordable energy. It also reinforces the continued growth of the renewable energy economy.
As regulations continue to increase renewable energy requirements, renewable energy will become a necessary tenet of urban centers. As things stand currently, even taking storage into consideration, the energy demands of urban centers are beyond the delivery capabilities of localized renewable technologies.
This leaves only a few options. For instance, the industry can augment renewable energy with local traditional fuel sources. However, this option can be difficult, as it works against increased renewable energy in the future. Furthermore, increasing consumption in some areas is difficult since regulations limit the amount of new emissions permitted.
Although the complications don’t end here, it’s easy to see how removing transmission from future energy plans can become a major issue for the industry to untangle.
Solar has become increasingly popular for both businesses and residential units. However, for a variety of reasons, solar panels tend to generate inefficient power during daylight hours for powering homes, much less large businesses. This is particularly true for multi-family dwellings and large, active homes in general.
However, transmission can help these businesses and families achieve their personal energy goals. Transmission combined with personal and community storage can allow for full solar power through community solar panels.
Powering a large city through solar power is a long way off, but in low density areas, this option is possible with transmission. Yet, when you take manufacturing businesses and schools into account, density issues arise once again. In this case as well, transmission can be a potential solution.
Pairing transmission with other localized sources can help any area, particularly urban centers, meet local and federal regulatory standards. It also provides sufficient energy for businesses to work with utilities to meet individual energy goals, giving them the ability to invest in the future of their community and the energy industry.
As Stewart Ramsay highlighted at Transmission and Distribution World, the only way we can begin to achieve the ambitious goals set by new regulations is to use a combination of solutions. Ramsay believes the way to hit these marks is through a combination of “grid-scale renewables, customer-based renewables, and greater energy efficiency.”
Transmission may not be the entire solution, but transmission must be a part of the solution to deliver grid-scale renewables. The future of renewable energy and its ability to succeed on a growing scale is intimately tied to transmission and its continued growth.