People helped create climate change beginning with the industrial revolution. Our current reliance on fossil fuels to maintain the lifestyle we have created is unsustainable for the planet. We need to collaborate, innovate, and act to reverse our dependence on creating greenhouse gases.
The current path to a green future is electricity. Once the electric grid is run completely on renewable energy, electrifying everything will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have made progress, but we need to move faster.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law in November 2021 and dedicates funds for building a national EV charging station network that prioritizes low to moderate-income neighborhoods and communities with multi-unit housing. It authorizes funds to electrify the transportation system and to expand domestic battery manufacturing and recycling facilities.
Companies are stepping up. General Motors has made a pledge to invest in EVs and the required infrastructure to charge them. Utilities across the nation have also joined forces to announce a nationwide grid of charging stations.
Cities and states are moving forward with energy efficiency and decarbonization requirements for new buildings and retrofitting existing buildings.
The Power Grid
All of this is good news. But, our electric grid is not up to the new demands we are placing on it. The current grid was hailed as the greatest engineering feat of the 20th century. Using technology that was available at the time, and generating power by burning coal or hydropower, the grid has served well. It needs a major overhaul to meet the new demands of variable power generated by solar and wind, as well as to be more reliable during the more severe weather events caused by climate change.
Storage is required so that energy produced when demand is low can be stored for peak demand times. Innovation in batteries and other storage technologies is working to solve the storage issue.
Expanded transmission of power will help equalize power across the country, transmitting electricity to areas of high demand as needed. Currently, the three major power grids work nearly independently of one another. The Interconnections SEAM Study found that a more integrated power grid will drive economic growth and efficiently make use of the variable power of renewable resources.
We Can Do This
The Department of Energy launched an initiative to build out the grid which needs to be expanded by about 60% by 2030. Engineers, tech professionals, construction experts, and other specialists will be needed to plan and execute the power grid of the future. Electrification will promote economic recovery and create good jobs in local industries that can’t be outsourced.