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Steps for Modernizing Electric Grids for Clean Energy

image credit: Image via Matthew Henry on Unsplash
Shannon Flynn's picture
Freelance Writer ReHack.com

Shannon Flynn has more than four years of experience in the technology industry, and two years writing about IT topics. She currently manages content at ReHack.com and writes about green...

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  • Aug 25, 2021
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Many components of the U.S. infrastructure are becoming increasingly outdated, and the electric grid that was designed over 100 years ago is no exception. More industries are focusing their efforts on the transition to clean energy to create a sustainable infrastructure for future generations.

Two driving forces influencing this transition are the need to reduce costs and provide clean, reliable energy to the millions of people in the country. In addition, the electricity demands the country faces are growing. To meet those demands, it’ll be necessary to upgrade the electric grid to be more sustainable.

While the idea of modernization may seem intimidating at first, it’s crucial to take whatever steps are necessary to improve the electric ecosystem. Clean energy sources are growing in popularity, and both government support and financial incentives will help industries make this transition.

Below are some steps that need to be taken to modernize electric grids and incorporate clean energy into the electric grid.

Benefits of Moving Toward a Sustainable Electric Grid

America’s economy, national security, and public health all rely on the delivery of energy. Making these much-needed upgrades to the electric grid will be one step in achieving this goal. Here are some benefits to be reaped by making this necessary transition:

  • Decarbonizing the power sector
  • Tackle climate change
  • Lower residential and commercial energy bills
  • Improve public health with better air quality
  • Create green jobs

Designing and building a more sustainable, modern electric grid will benefit more than just the power sector itself.

Extreme weather conditions are known to cause issues with the electric grid. By modernizing it, it could be built to withstand these conditions and improve overall resiliency. Avoiding weather-related outages is yet another benefit of switching to clean, sustainable energy.

So, how can this transition be made? What steps need to be taken to modernize electric grids?

Steps Needed to Modernize Electric Grids

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) created the Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI) to assist in the transition to a modern, clean electric grid. The DOE is working with public and private partners to develop the technology needed to gain more control over the electric grid and use sustainable energy sources.

Aside from the GMI, more steps need to be taken to make the seamless transition. Continue reading to learn more about the different factors influencing the modernization of electric grids.

Provide Incentives for Utility Companies

Because electricity is a utility, it’s essential to acknowledge that owners of electricity companies are still trying to make a profit. The majority of revenue comes from more extensive projects and significant investments, like power lines and substations.

Owners are not looking for ways to improve consumer spending on electricity. However, providing incentives to these companies is one way to work toward modernizing the electric grid. When companies decide to use clean energy sources, they should be rewarded for taking this step and recognized for their efforts.

For example, rather than invest in power lines and substations, companies should redirect their spending on solar roofs, batteries, and other methods of energy production.

Offer Customer Choice and Increase Competition

It’s clear that there’s monopolistic competition within the power sector. To meet increasing demands, it’s crucial to offer customers more choices when powering their residential or commercial homes or businesses.

In addition to eliminating the monopoly, increasing transparency with energy data will be critical. Allowing innovative companies like Apple and Google to assist customers with finding clean energy solutions and sharing that data will be necessary to modernize the grid.

Over the past few decades, utility and electricity companies gained more power over the grid, making it challenging for entrepreneurs to find new ways to deliver reliable, clean energy to their customers. Making energy more cost-effective will also help in the transition.

Retrofit Old Buildings to Meet New Demand

To build resiliency and support the modernization of the electric grid, companies must take advantage of the opportunity to retrofit old buildings with new electrical systems. Because the existing electric grid is antiquated, the structures built years ago likely have older systems in place. Making the necessary changes and upgrades to these old buildings leads to more efficient energy usage and helps lower energy costs.

Retrofitting buildings with advanced technology and smart sensors will help measure current energy output and inform electric companies about other improvements that can be made.

While these are only a few steps that can be taken to support electric grid modernization, it’s also vital that the government intervenes to create supportive policies. Without government backing, it would be challenging to reach the goal of creating a modern electric grid.

A Cleaner, More Modern Electric Grid

As time goes on, the electric grid providing energy to consumers today will no longer be sustainable. Modernizing the electric grid is considered a top priority for the Biden administration. To meet new demands, electric companies will need to participate in the DOE’s GMI and find innovative ways to scale quickly, responsibly, and sustainably.

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