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⚡ "Innovation & Data are Revolutionizing the Grid"

The Interchange

Photo by Matt Ridley / Unsplash

Host: David Banmiller
Guests: Peter Wells | CEO | Smart Wires &
Hudson Gilmer | CEO | LineVision
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:29] HG: “In the US […] the backbone of the grid is about 600,000 miles of high voltage overhead lines. And these are delivering the cleanest, most efficient power from wherever it's generated to where it's needed. What may surprise […] is that today, nearly all these lines are not monitored. So what LineVision does by adding relatively low cost sensors to these lines, is unlock up to 40% additional capacity on existing lines, which can be used to connect more renewables, more generation. But also by monitoring these lines, we can make the grid more resilient, we can make it safer, and basically protect against a lot of the severe weather events that we've seen in recent years that have caused some of these devastating grid outages.”

[6:36] HG: “As we seek to meet decarbonization goals, and connect more renewables to the grid, but also electrify a lot of loads, like transportation, and buildings and industry, we're going to need a much larger grid. So we've built out our current grid over the last 100, maybe 150 years. And there's basically been one model for how we do it. It's using large capital intensive projects to either build new lines or upgrade existing lines, those projects take 5 to 10, or even more years, and we've seen recently just how difficult it is. Nobody wants a new power line in their backyard. And so what these technologies represent, which we broadly call grid enhancing technologies, is deploying advanced sensors, advanced analytics and power could power electronics, to get more out of the existing grid. And frankly, we think there's no way we can get to these ambitious goals of a zero net carbon grid by 2035 without the low hanging fruit of first deploying these technologies to get the most out of the existing grid. Yes, we'll need to build new lines, […] but the timeframes and the cost involved are simply so high, that we ought to start first by optimizing the grid we've already built.”

[8:25] PW: “To me, the grid is almost like the untold story. It doesn't really matter how much innovation you have on generation and demand side technologies, if the grid isn't able to cope with what is a massive paradigm shift in terms of where generation is coming from and when, and how the demand side is also evolving and changing. […] To really achieve the goals that are set out by countries all over the world to achieve net zero, you can't get there without a grid that is digitalized, meaning it's a platform that enables all of this innovation on generation and demand to be unleashed. […] It's really the untold story that nobody seems to think about the grid other than the people in the grid.”

[9:31] HG: “Currently, there are hundreds of large-scale wind and solar generation projects that are stuck. They're stuck in what's called the interconnection queue. Basically, they're waiting to be connected to the grid. And they represent over 1,000 gigawatts of generating capacity and hundreds of thousands of jobs and also have the potential to just provide much more resilience, much more surplus capacity on the grid to withstand some of these severe weather events. So there was a study called “Unlocking the Queue” that was done by the Brattle Group about six months ago, that showed that these grid enhancing technologies collectively […] can more than double the amount of renewables that can be connected to the existing grid. And if deployed on a national basis, they can deliver about $5 billion in consumer savings. So that’s savings to households, it's more competitiveness to industry, and has a payback period of around six months. And then of course, you've got all the jobs that are tied up in those projects that are stuck in the interconnection queue.”

[16:07] HG: “The Department of Energy […] announced the “Building a Better Grid" Initiative, which is putting $20 billion towards not just continuing to build the grid the way we've done for the last 100, 150 years, but really towards transformative impact. So figuring out how we literally build back better using some of these technologies like power flow control, like dynamic line ratings. […] The way that […] Smart Grid Investment grant is structured, it provides cost matching, really to get over that initial hurdle of addressing some of those challenges of first integrating these new technologies, which is going to be super important in broader industry adoption.”

[36:10] PW: “Most countries around the world [have] set goals by 2030 on their journey to net zero, greenhouse gas reduction commitments in Europe and other places. And the reality is, in my view, you just can't get there, unless you fundamentally invest and evolve the grid, because you won't get enough renewable energy coming on to the grid in the first instance. You won't be driving sector coupling, electrification, e-mobility, you just simply won't get there. […] The interesting thing, I believe, as well is the pace of change might surprise us too. […] Once we start to go in this direction, we might be very surprised by how quickly the innovation takes off.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 42 min | 🗓️ 01/21/2022
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