Gridlock for green energy: electrical connections

In the wise words of Yogi Berra, “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they aren’t.”

The U.S. Has Billions for Wind and Solar Projects. Good Luck Plugging Them In.

An explosion in proposed clean energy ventures has overwhelmed the system for connecting new power sources to homes and businesses.
By Brad Plumer, The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2023

The energy transition poised for takeoff in the United States amid record investment in wind, solar and other low-carbon technologies is facing a serious obstacle: The volume of projects has overwhelmed the nation’s antiquated systems to connect new sources of electricity to homes and businesses.

So many projects are trying to squeeze through the approval process that delays can drag on for years, leaving some developers to throw up their hands and walk away…

It now takes roughly four years, on average, for developers to get approval to add electricity generated by wind turbines or solar arrays to the local grid, double the time it took a decade ago.

And when companies finally get their projects reviewed, they often face another hurdle: the local grid is at capacity, and they are required to spend much more than they planned for new transmission lines and other upgrades…[end quote]

The interconnection process is part of the problem. There is also a lack of capacity in the grid to carry the additional power.

Hopefully, someday people will look back at these problems as growing pains during the buildout of a new energy paradigm. But at present, fewer than one-fifth of solar and wind proposals actually make it through the so-called interconnection queue.



Hence the need to rebuild the power distribution network. That would also eliminate a lot of power lost due to old equipment, lack of maintenance, and so on. Which means a lot more of the energy generated can actually get to the consumer and be used.


The first seems a problem of not enough people in the various parts of government to handle the paperwork. Small government anyone? The latter is a problem of the grid itself, and would be a problem no matter what kind of power generation source we were trying to bring online.

This is why spending on infrastructure is necessary and I’m glad we appear to be starting to do so. Too bad we didn’t do this all along.

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