House Holds Hearing on Electric Grid Resilience & Reliability

by Mar 2, 2022Idealease, News, Safety, Truck Driver Safety

On February 15, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis conducted a hearing on Strategies for Electric Grid Resilience and Reliability.  One of the witnesses was Mark Mills, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute; Faculty Fellow, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science & Co-Director, Institute on Manufacturing Science and Innovation, Northwestern University, whose testimony questioned many of the assumptions about whether current grid infrastructure investment would provide sufficient power for the economy at cost-efficient levels over the coming decades.

Mills’ testimony stated:

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows overall grid reliability is degrading while outages and consumer prices are increasing (average U.S. electricity prices up 50% since 2000).

12% of U.S. power is supplied by solar and wind, which cannot be dispatched when needed or expanded without further degrading grid reliability. Many U.S. states propose an energy transition similar to Germany, which has in effect built two grids at ratepayer expense: one based on wind & solar, and one on conventional fuels. German customers pay about 300% more for electricity on average than U.S customers. This winter Europe is experiencing radical spikes in electricity prices arising from “wind droughts” and supply chain issues. The dual grid model is more likely to create prices spikes than alleviate them.

Electrification advocates argue grid-scale storage is the solution, powered by 100% wind and solar. This will require at least twice today’s installed generating capacity to meet peak demand and to produce surplus power for battery storage when peak demand cannot be met.

12-hours of backup storage will be necessary at a cost of $1+ trillion. Minerals accounting for 60-70% of battery costs are forecast to rise even further due to global demand and scarcity. Approximately 50 tons of batteries (comprised of about 25,000 tons of minerals, mostly sourced from China) are needed to hold the same amount of energy as one ton of oil. EIA estimates a 400% to 4,000% increase in the mining of critical minerals will be necessary for this “energy transition,” more than is currently produced by all global mines currently in operation, including planned expansions. Building enough grid-scale batteries for backup storage globally would require the equivalent of 100 centuries worth of batteries for all the world’s smartphones. Future battery technologies may solve some of these problems but will take many years if not decades to discover and scale-up production.

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