Friday, December 23, 2022

Crisis Looming For U.S. Energy Grid

A Crisis Is Looming For The US Energy Grid

  • The U.S.’ aging energy infrastructure is already under strain, but the combination of more renewable power sources and higher demand could cause shortages for years to come.

  • The major concern for the energy grid is severe weather events, such as the Texas freeze in February 2021 when the state had to carry out rotating power outages.

  • The Midwest and South-Central U.S. are at the highest risk of electricity shortages, but the entire country needs to modernize its electricity grid to avoid shortages in the future.

As U.S. energy infrastructure continues to go largely neglected and city populations keep rising, certain regions of America are under threat of electricity shortages for several years to come. In addition to inadequate energy infrastructure, the rise of renewable power sources and the growing countrywide energy demand are putting pressure on the grid like never before.  The Midwest and South-Central U.S. appear to be most at risk of electricity shortages according to a recent analysis. These regions fall into the “high risk” and “elevated risk” categories. The shortages are most likely to be seen during peak energy usage times, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation(NERC). There is a multitude of reasons for the shortages, largely centered around America’s aging energy infrastructure. 

At present, across the Midwest, a larger quantity of power generation is going offline than new electricity being brought online. This has meant shortages in the region since 2018. In contrast, California uses a wide mix of electricity sources, including renewable energy options such as solar power, which is not consistent. In addition, the demand varies throughout the day, with peak times failing to coincide with high-solar power output times. The energy issues have also been spurred by a general global shortage of LNG following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions on Russian energy. 

Concerns around shortages are mostly based on elevated peak demand, which means both higher summer and winter demand, peak hour usage, and the surge in demand during severe weather events when people are more likely to use their air conditioners and heating systems. There are worries that shortages will hit hard in the winter months, as power demand in Texas rises by a projected 7 percent over last winter. Last year, the state’s grid operator carried out rotating power outages due to shortages caused by the Texas freeze of February 2021. 


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