What is holding back the US energy transition?

Photo-illustration: Unsplash (Andreas Gucklhorn)

Although today, more than ever before, there is talk in America about renewable energy sources, it seems that the construction of green power plants is not progressing at the same pace. While in the European Union in 2020, as much as 38 percent of energy was obtained from renewable sources, and in China 29 percent, in the United States the share of clean energy last year was 21 percent.

This figure may come as a surprise as America is home to the world’s leading electric car maker, Tesla, and has plenty of potential for almost all types of renewable energy.

Whether the United States will soon achieve a larger share of clean energy sources depends exclusively on one thing – the construction of high-voltage power lines and the accompanying infrastructure.

According to a study by the American Council for Renewable Energy (ACORE), the greatest potential for the production of green megawatts is located in Central America, while the largest consumers of electricity are cities millions of miles away – Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and others.

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Although these cities are still supplied with electricity from local nuclear and thermal power plants, the transition to renewable energy sources requires the construction of a dense network of kilometers of high-voltage transmission lines.

For an economically stable country, that should not be a problem, but the matter is far more complicated than it seems.

First of all, the construction of transmission lines takes longer than the construction of solar or wind power plants, but these projects are still not given enough attention.

In addition, high-voltage power lines carry the risk of causing forest fires, and one such decimated the forest in California in 2019. Also, the construction of the transmission line requires the permission of the property owner, which can further slow down or even disable the process.

The process of decarbonisation of the United States is somewhat more demanding than in the rest of the world because it is not possible to build large solar power plants or wind farms near the largest consumers. Fortunately, the need to build the transmission line was recognized in time, and significant investments in infrastructure for RES can be expected in the coming period.

Milena Maglovski


Source: Energetski portal Srbije by www.energetskiportal.rs.

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