5.3 Transmission, Distribution and Storage: Grid Integration (Ch. 20)

The chapter discusses the important role of the electric transmission and distribution grid in meeting deep decarbonization goals. The U.S. DDPP reports state that meeting the 2050 target of reducing U.S. GHG emissions 80% below 1990 levels will require almost “fully decarbonizing” U.S. electricity resources and shifting a large share of transportation-related energy needs from petroleum resources to electricity resources. Accomplishing this goal will require a doubling of U.S. electricity generation as well as a significant expansion of the U.S. electric transmission and distribution grid, particularly since onshore renewable energy resources are dispersed widely throughout the country and are often located far from population centers. The reports conclude that the actual monetary cost to build the necessary transmission and distribution infrastructure is modest and will not significantly impact the cost of electricity resources for consumers. But there are significant legal, political, and socioeconomic barriers to building significant amounts of new, interstate transmission infrastructure. These barriers and potential solutions to them are the focus of the chapter.