|See the videos of the launch event presentations below|
On November 29th, the Climate Institute launched its North American Supergrid initiative, a proposal for the construction of a largely underground high voltage direct current (HVDC) electric grid overlay along existing rights-of-way in the contiguous United States (with eventual expansion to Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, and Mexico). Four speakers, Dr. Alexander MacDonald (former Director of NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab, and current Program Director at Spire Global, Inc.), Betsy Beck (Director of Transmission Policy at the American Wind Energy Association), Charles Bayless (former CEO of Illinois Power and Tucson Electric as well as the retired President and Provost of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology), and Rachel Levine (Chief Engineer for the Climate Institute), discussed the many economic, environmental, and national security benefits of the North American Supergrid.
As described by Dr. MacDonald, the Supergrid initiative has the potential to reduce power sector carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 80 percent, while facilitating the integration of utility and distributed-scale solar and wind power that cannot be profitably transported and sold beyond the limited market areas made possible by our current alternating current grid. All forms of energy would be allowed to compete on a level playing field, with cost determining the penetration of various energy sources into a newly created national market. Bayless echoed the need to address the shortcomings associated with limited grid resiliency, making the case for the instantaneous transmission of electricity to improve electricity reliability. He also discussed the importance of undergrounding and shielding cables, to protect the North American Supergrid system against electromagnetic pulse and geomagnetic disturbance events. Lastly, Bayless discussed the findings of the Climate Institute’s economic analysis, which proved the economic viability of the largely underground system and discussed potential funding mechanisms. Beck further discussed the economic advantages of the system, including projected job creation in many sectors. Lastly, Levine described the practical implementation challenges associated with constructing the North American Supergrid, and gave examples of HVDC lines that exist and are operational around the world.
Dr. Alexander MacDonald, Program Director at Spire Global, Inc; formerly Director of NOAA’s Earth System Research Lab
Betsy Beck, Director of Transmission Policy at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
Charles Bayless, formerly CEO of Illinois Power and Tucson Electric; formerly President and Provost of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology
Rachel Levine, Chief Engineer for the Climate Institute