The US wants to strengthen the electricity grid with an investment of USD 3.5 billion

The United States plans to invest approximately $3.5 billion in 58 projects in 44 states to strengthen the resilience and reliability of the electric grid as new energy sources are added.

“Extreme weather events driven by climate change will continue to strain the nation’s aging transmission systems, but President Biden’s Investing in America program will ensure America’s grid can provide reliable and affordable energy,” said Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm. She added that the investment ‚Äúrepresents the largest direct investment to date in critical network infrastructure.

Granholm recently said the grid as it stands is not equipped to handle all the projected new demand as electrification ramps up across the country.

The funds are in the first round of selections under the broader $10.5 billion Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Program, the DOE said.

Investments are to focus on reliability, lower costs, positioning disadvantaged communities to withstand extreme weather, deploying adaptive grid microgrids, substation flood mitigation, upgrading underground monitoring/control technologies, deploying battery backup power systems, replacing aging infrastructure and installing advanced conductors to increase network capacity.

The investment also includes several projects aimed at interregional cooperation to expand transmission between multiple states. One project would coordinate the planning, design and construction of five transmission projects across the Midwest in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri and South Dakota.

Another project would aim to improve wildfire assessment and resilience networks in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

All in all, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law aims to invest more than $20 billion in modernizing the U.S. energy grid, the DOE said.

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In related news, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) introduced the Grid Resilience Innovation and Development Act on Tuesday. The bill would direct the DOE to explore how quantum applications and computing techniques can make America’s electric grid more resilient, safer and more efficient.

“The power grid in Texas and other regions across the country must be able to handle the stress of extreme weather, increased demand and other challenges,” Sen said. Cornyn. “This legislation would help determine how best to use the advanced capabilities of quantum computers to make the U.S. electric grid more resilient.”

Increasing network pressure

While solar and wind capacity are on the rise in the United States, natural gas production remains far behind the main source of energy for electricity operators in the grid across the countryaccording to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The total share of renewable energy sources in the US is around 22%, compared to about 38% for natural gas.

The United States is expecting add 8.6 GW of natural gas-burning capacity to its power generation fleet in 2023 as fuel demand breaks records. Consumption of natural gas in the production of electricity rose last summer, making monthly records of 47.3 Bcf/dv in both July and August. The EIA sees energy sector consumption of natural gas averaging 35.3 Bcf/d for the full year 2023, up 6%, or 2.1 Bcf/d, from record levels seen in the previous period.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the scale of electrification will increase pressure on grids worldwide if countries are to meet their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Reliable electricity supplies could be at risk if politicians and companies do not act quickly to improve and expand the world’s electricity grids, IEA researchers said in a recent report.

Achieving all of the nation’s climate and energy goals would require adding or replacing 80 million kilometers, or about 50 million miles, of power lines by 2040, an amount equal to the entire existing global grid. Annual grid investment, which has remained largely stagnant, needs to double to more than $600 billion a year by 2030, the IEA said.

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