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Why the US isn’t ready for clean energy

Making clean energy isn’t enough: We also have to move it.

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In the near future, the energy made in the US is going to be much greener. The country’s current goal is for solar plants alone to make nearly half of US electricity by 2050. But we can’t just build solar plants where coal and gas plants used to be. They have to be built where it’s… sunny. And wind turbines have to be built where it’s windy. The problem is, that’s not always where the people who need the power are.

The distance from energy source to energy need is about to get a lot bigger. And the US is going to need more high-voltage transmission lines. A lot more. As soon as possible. While solar plants can be built relatively fast, high-voltage transmission projects can take up to 10 years. So experts say we need to start proactively building them, right now.

This is the second of five videos we’re releasing on climate coverage this week. You can watch the first video on extreme heat 🌡 and what cities are doing to combat that here: https://youtu.be/ZQ6fSHr5TJg

And the third video on prescribed burns 🔥 for forests here: https://youtu.be/0o6ezu_h6iE

Sources and further reading:
Much of the map data in the piece comes from the Net-Zero America study out of Princeton University: https://netzeroamerica.princeton.edu/

This map from the US Energy Information Association is a good way to see what power plants and high-voltage power lines are near you (if you’re in the US): https://www.eia.gov/state/maps.php

Vermont Public Radio reported on the energy bottleneck we talk about in the very beginning of the video: https://www.vpr.org/vpr-news/2020-12-15/transmission-grid-bottlenecks-in-northeast-kingdom-stall-solar-development

And here’s more about that denied power plant from local Vermont TV station WCAX: https://www.wcax.com/content/news/Regulators-deny-Derby-solar-project-504867011.html

This other great study is what calculated how much renewable energy potential there is in just those 15 middle states: https://acore.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Corporate-Demand-and-Transmission-January-2018.pdf

More about the 2018 Camp Fire in California and the investigation that determined it was started by electrical transmission lines: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/15/officials-camp-fire-deadliest-in-california-history-was-caused-by-pge-electrical-transmission-lines.html

And if you want to get really into the details of how these lines work, I found the Edison Tech Center really helpful: https://edisontechcenter.org/wires.html

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