This groundbreaking report finds that electrification will drive the need for significant investment in the electric transmission grid to cost effectively support new demand for electricity. At the same time, the economics of natural gas and renewable generation resources will continue to drive changes tothe mix of fuels on the grid. Meanwhile, public policies surrounding clean energy and climate concerns are already changing the face of corporate strategies and utility operations, which are increasingly regional, inter-regional,and even national inscope. Regional grid plannersand managers are struggling to stay ahead of thesechanges. These factors, combined with the coming sea change in electric usage, indicate there is an urgent need for more effective longer-term planningto support anelectrified economy and the new fuel mix.
This is the latest in a series of WIRES studies for policy makers interested in the evolving high voltage electric grid. Above all, this new study makesa clearcase for accelerating development and integration of the interstate grid. It highlights how the North American economies will become more electrically driven and contemplates new demands onan agingtransmission networkthat has been planned based onhistorical assumptions and traditional usage patterns. Looking 10 and 30 years into the future, this analysis estimates that electrification of the transportation sector (i.e., electric vehicles), deployment of electric heat pumps, and other technologies will increase electricity demand overall and therefore magnify the need for investment in transmission. As soon as2030, 70 GW to 200 GW of new electric generation will be needed to meet the estimated demand growth. Recent trends indicate that new electric generation will continue to migrate away from fossil resources and toward renewable resources andnatural gas. Based on these estimates, the report states that transmission investment must continue to grow from an average of $15 Billion annually today to as much as $22 Billion per year in 2030. As electrification expands, the U.S. will require up to $40 Billion in new investment annually between 2031 and 2050 to ensure that the grid is robust, flexible, capable of maintaining high levels of reliability, and resilientagainst emerging threats.Despite transmission’s current and future benefits, the grid faces difficult challenges.
Major transmission projects require 10 or more years on average for planning, development, approval, and construction.Given the long-lead time for transmission planning and siting, efforts need to begin immediately to update planning forecasts and prepare for an electrified future. We need to be prepared for this new economy, otherwise increased electricity demand may leave us unprepared to meet customer needs or worse compromise system reliability. We are already in the midst of an investment cycle to upgrade and replace aging and existing transmission infrastructure, much of which dates from the 1960s, 70s, and earlier. To optimize our efforts and achieve cost efficiency, these new assumptions about the future must be incorporated into investment decisions today.The new Brattle report on electrification therefore offers an optimistictale–one in which we seize this opportunity to plan our transmission grid to support electrification as cost-effectively as possible. The need for action is clear,but can we seize the opportunity? This report is a state-of-the-art look into a more electrified future. It is now time to prepare for it and the technical and economic challenges it will bring. WIRES solicits and looks forwardto your comments and questions, which can be submitted to www.wiresgroup.com or email@example.com
Brian Gemmell, National Grid, WIRES President 2019
James J. HoeckerHusch, Blackwell LLPHoecker Energy Law & Policy PLLCExecutive Director & Counsel
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For full report download: https://wiresgroup.com/new/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Electrification_BrattleReport_WIRES_FINAL_03062019.pdf