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Catching Up with Energy Central Experts: Dave Bryant of CTC Global Corporation, Expert in the Grid Professionals Group [an Energy Central Power Perspectives™ Interview]

Posted to Energy Central in the Transmission Professionals Group
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Energy Analyst Chester Energy and Policy

Official Energy Central Community Manager of Generation and Energy Management Networks. Matt is an energy analyst in Orlando FL (by way of Washington DC) working as an independent energy...

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  • Mar 24, 2022
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Dave Bryant has been a trusted member of the Energy Central Network of Experts in the Transmission Professionals Group for over two years, constantly sharing insights into the new technologies and upgrades that are allowing the modernization of the grid. This area is one of deep commitment and expertise for him, so we’re thrilled he continues to provide his expertise to our community, whether that’s through posts, answering critical Q&A topics that fellow community members post, and otherwise.

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To help kick off yet another year with Dave providing his perspective for Energy Central, we thought it was time to check in with him again in another entry in our Energy Central Power Perspectives Interview Series. Specifically, I knew he had been hard at work putting out a new report so I wanted to pick his brain about the motivation and outcomes of that study on advanced conductors in transmission corridors for decarbonization. Keep reading to hear him share more! 

Matt Chester: Always great to catch up with our esteemed experts in the community, Dave. I know you’ve been up to a lot, namely the just released report on “Advanced Conductors on Existing Transmission Corridors to Accelerate Low Cost Decarbonization.” Can you give a broad overview of this report—what was the impetus for it?

Dave Bryant: Thanks Matt. In January, the U.S. DOE posted the “Building a Better Grid” Initiative in the Federal Register which is designed to support massive grid expansion and modernization. Considering the Initiative anticipates the need to increase transmission capacity by 60% over the next 8 years (by 2030) and by as much as 300% by 2050, CTC Global, supported by a number of other entities, asked Grid Strategies to consider ways Advanced Conductors can help achieve these goals and propose specific actions that should expeditiously be taken by FERC, DOE, Utility Planners, and State Regulators.

 

MC: We’ll link to the report so our community members can review it (editor note: see here), but can you give us a quick summary of the key story and takeaways?

DB: While the Report acknowledges the need to build many new lines, it also describes the critical need to substantially increase the capacity of the existing grid. Reconductoring with Advanced Conductors such as ACCC is an excellent solution because they can be installed quickly and cost effectively without the need to replace or upgrade existing structures that would otherwise require more time, present more permitting challenges, and tie up crews and equipment for longer timeframes.

The Report concluded that if only 25% of the 200,000+ miles of transmission lines greater than 50 years old can be replaced over the next decade, then 270 GW of additional renewable generation can be connected to the grid. This effort would reduce CO2 emissions by 2.8 billion metric tons and would save consumers over $140 billion dollars over the decade. 

 

MC: In this report, you have specific suggestions for regulators and policymakers, from DOE to state regulators to FERC. Have you seen these bodies taking notice of the issues you’re highlighting in this report? And what more should be done to get the attention of these leaders on it?

DB: First of all, I’d like to share some of the Report’s key recommendations that include: Expanding planning scenarios to consider the possibility of additional new renewable generation assets; Establishing transmission conductor efficiency standards; Consider Advanced Conductors as a priority for select Power Marketing Administration (PMA) projects and for other projects which DOE supports via grants, loans, or other financing mechanisms; and, Shift project evaluations by utilities and regulatory authorities from “least cost” to “maximum net benefits” when reviewing project options.

While transmission, decarbonization and sustainability are all very hot topics, and we are supporting policy changes, speaking with utility friends, NASEO, NARUC and other organizations including WIRES, Grid Forward, ACORE and many others, only a handful of Utilities in the U.S. have taken full advantage of reconductoring with Advanced Conductors, since we first commercialized the ACCC Conductor in 2005. Only 150 or so ACCC reconductor projects have been completed in the U.S., out of around 1,100 projects, worldwide.

This may be due to the fact that there are well over 3,000 utilities in the U.S. - each of which need to do their own technical evaluations - or the fact that some utilities prefer rebuilding over reconductoring or are concerned about being accused of ‘gold plating’ even though reconductoring with Advanced Conductors is generally less than half the cost of rebuilding with larger, heavier legacy steel core conductors. In any case it seems that the reconductoring with Advanced Conductors is an option that may be hidden in plain sight.

MC: Turning the attention to the utility professionals who make up Energy Central’s audience, what message would you have for them while you have their attention in this interview? What should the board rooms of utilities be talking about with regard to these needs and technologies?

DB: Utility leaders know that it is cleaner and more economical to save energy than it is to produce it considering that billions of dollars have been spent improving the efficiency of generation assets, transformers, and demand side appliances, but NOT on the transmission arteries (“the wires”) that connect them. In my opinion there is no way we will be able to solve modern problems with dated technology. Did you know that the ACSR conductor was introduced about the same time that Ford built the Model A?  Advanced Conductors offer benefits that can no longer be ignored, and the magnitude of the challenge is just too immense. Advanced Conductors are highly efficient, offer twice the capacity of legacy conductors and reduce line losses under any load condition by ~30%. Reduced line losses reduce fuel consumption and associated emissions – while freeing-up generation assets otherwise wasted.

 

MC: Obviously with this report, you have a lot to do in terms of spreading the word and trying to implement the recommendations. But let’s look even further ahead—what sort of issues do you think would need to be discussed in a similar report that would come out 5 or more years from now? Put another way, if you could look into your crystal ball and the technologies continue to progress as maybe you anticipate, what new opportunities would be on the table that aren’t currently possible?

DB: As I’m sure many are aware the Smart Grid is getting smarter every year with many technical innovations. As one of the first manufacturers of Advanced Conductors, CTC Global is happily seeing many other manufacturers add these technologies to their portfolio. When you have a great product, you will have followers. In a highly competitive market, we intend to maintain our leadership role and are continuing to roll out technical innovations such as the ACCC InfoCore™ System. This system, using embedded optical fibers, was designed to confirm that installations were completed successfully. The technology also established a foundation for further innovation that will offer additional benefits.

 

MC: How do you hope to tap into the Energy Central community to further this message and make the progress you see as necessary in this report?  

DB: I joined the Energy Central community several years ago and have enjoyed reading hundreds of articles and written a few myself. It’s great to read stories and learn so much from our very knowledgeable colleagues. I’m sure others enjoy it as much as I do. I generally try to forward articles to my peers and/or share them on LinkedIn or other social media, when I believe others would benefit. I hope a few readers add to this by posing questions and/or comments and perhaps take the time to look at the Grid Strategies (editor note: linked here again).

 

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Thanks once again to Dave Bryant for joining me for this interview and for continuing to provide a wealth of insights an expertise to the Energy Central Community. You can trust that Dave will be available for you to reach out and connect, ask questions, and more as an Energy Central member, so be sure to make him feel welcome when you see him across the platform.

The other expert interviews that we’ve completed in this series can be read here, and if you are interested in becoming an expert then you can reach out to me or you can apply here.

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