DOE calls for overhaul of grid technology

Source: By Peter Behr, E&E • Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Commercial technology yet to be deployed by grid operators could increase power flows by up to 100 gigawatts.

Transformers and power transmission lines in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Transformers and power transmission lines in Des Plaines, Illinois. Tim Boyle/Getty Images

The Department of Energy has issued a plea to the electricity industry to start using existing commercial technology to help manage the chaotic shift toward clean energy and the eruption of power demand from data centers.

The report, “Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Innovative Grid Deployment,” spells out advantages of advanced technologies that boost the capacity of transmission lines; replace aging power cables with lighter, stronger wires; and give grid operators more visibility and control over power flows.

DOE found that technology deployment could increase grid capacity by between 20 gigawatts and 100 gigawatts during peak periods. Boosting grid capacity has become essential as the U.S. economy and technology companies demand more power. Data centers are sucking up more electricity. But President Joe Biden’s industrial and climate policies are also setting the stage for a vast expansion of power demand into the 2030s as more electric cars are charging and factories for microchips and batteries and sources of clean energy plug into the grid.

“Of the nearly $90 billion invested in transmission and distribution infrastructure in 2023, only $6 billion was spent on advanced grid solutions,” DOE reported.