The two greatest threats the United States (and other nations) face could be solved by a single infrastructure project that could be done now with existing technology. The threat the Democrats see is climate change. The threat the Republicans see is terrorism on a massive scale.
Not only can the US save money on its electricity by moving to a 48-state power network based on high voltage DC power lines, writes Christopher Clack. It’s also the key to increasing the penetration of renewables as the lowest cost energy source, with wind and solar delivering 55% of the nation’s electricity demand – and a 78% reduction in carbon emissions.
Carbon dioxide emissions from generating electricity could be cut by 78 percent within the next 15 years if the country makes the same Herculean effort to expand solar and wind technology that it did to build the Interstate Highway System.
Carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation are a major cause of anthropogenic climate change. The deployment of wind and solar power reduces these emissions, but is subject to the variability of the weather. In the present study, we calculate the cost-optimized configuration of variable electrical power generators using weather data with high spatial (13-km) and temporal (60-min) resolution over the contiguous US. Our results show that when using future anticipated costs for wind and solar, carbon dioxide emissions from the US electricity sector can be reduced by up to 80% relative to 1990 levels, without an increase in the levelized cost of electricity. The reductions are possible with current technologies and without electrical storage. Wind and solar power increase their share of electricity production as the system grows to encompass large-scale weather patterns. This reduction in carbon emissions is achieved by moving away from a regionally divided electricity sector to a national system enabled by high-voltage direct-current transmission.
Days ahead of the first presidential caucus in Iowa, Peter Vincent Pry went to the Hawkeye state to brief presidential candidates about his life’s work — preventing a nationwide blackout of the power grid.