Renewable Energy Is About to Get Supersized

Get ready for the supergrid.

A new report from Navigant Research finds that investment in supergrids—large-scale power networks that could carry energy from wind and solar farms and across international borders—will hit $10.2 billion by 2025. That’s up from an estimated $8.3 billion this year.

Supergrids are “about capacity and distance,” said Richelle Elberg, principal research analyst for Navigant Research and one of the authors of the report. They would allow sources such as wind farms to provide energy to cities hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This would let utilities invest in massive solar or wind farms in areas where they would generate the most electricity, which might not be where people live.

They would also provide flexibility to draw electricity from different sources if on any given day the wind dies or clouds block the sun in a particular region.

“It can be rainy and miserable in Dallas and beautiful in Nevada,” Elberg said. “That’s where this comes into play.”

Utilities already transmit power long distances—from state to state, for example, or between Canada and the U.S.—but this would take things to a new level. One planned supergrid, now under construction, would link energy production in China, South Korea, Mongolia, Russia, and Japan. The first phase of construction is estimated to cost $6.2 billion.

Read the entire article at takepart.com