Billionaire T. Boone Pickens recently scaled back his plan for massive wind farms – though he’s still taking delivery on those 667 wind turbines he has on order. One of the reasons he gave for the change, besides the price of oil, was transmission problems. High capacity transmission is simply not available.
The coasts consume the majority of the electricity, but some of the best locations for wind farms and solar farms is inland. Practical renewable energy solutions will remain tantalizingly just out of reach until high-capacity cross-country transmission is available. The best way to move high volumes of electricity is via 765 kV. The 765kV grid requires no new technologies, no scientific breakthroughs. We know how to do this today.
Go to the “Energy Map of America” and nav through the various maps. Notice that the Electrical map shows the country is most covered by 230 kilovolt (kV), some coverage of 345 kV, 500 kV lines on the coasts, just a few lines of 765 kV.
In 1830, the US had only 40 miles of railroad track. By 1870, there were 50,000 miles, and by 1890, 163,000 miles. By 1900, countrywide agriculture was in high gear.
In 1919 it took two weeks for a truck convoy led by a young lieutenant named Dwight Eisenhower to cross the US. In 1940, the PA turnpike opened, and in 1956, the national interstate highway system was signed into law by the then President Dwight Eisenhower.
Similar comparisons can be drawn with flight, telephone, and mail. It took the US working together to do what no one person was able to do alone. Move mountains to achieve progress.
We have a similar opportunity in front of us right now. By building the infrastructure, we enable economic growth. We have seen this before, and it will happen again.
There is little doubt remaining that the future power needs of this planet will have to be met through renewable energy. The wars, grief, and terrorism that are spawned from an oil-dependant global economy will continue to have an unacceptable impact on the international balance of power. The environmental impact of our dependence of fossil fuels is undeniable.
The United States must, once again, set the example for the world to follow. We must lead in the development of renewable energy. The solutions to the engineering problems of how to produce the power effectively – those solutions will come from entrepreneurs and the private sector. The grid, the infrastructure, the arteries that will allow capitalism to flow – that must be the responsibility of our government.
Like the great public works projects of the past, the 765 kV grid has the potential to define and reshape the economy of this nation for decades to come. We need only have the will to make it happen.
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