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WWS402 - PWasserm Final

WWS402 - PWasserm Final

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Published by Faaez Ul Haq

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Published by: Faaez Ul Haq on May 04, 2011
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WWS 402: The Electric Power GridIn the United StatesDirector: H.A. Feiveson
Renewable Energy Production and TransmissionIn the United States
 Patrick WassermanSpring 2011
Student Honor Code Pledge:This paper represents my own work in accordance with University regulations.Patrick Wasserman
Executive Summary
The United States currently generates about 12% of its electricity from renewableresources, which includes wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal energy.Renewable resourceelectricity generation has a number of positive benefits for the United States: it reducesdependence on foreign resources, diversifies the U.S. energy portfolio, encourages economicgrowth, creates many thousands of jobs for U.S. citizens, mitigates the emissions of harmfulgreenhouse gases, and, more broadly, itprepares the U.S. to satisfy its energy needs in years tocome.Because the benefits are great and the costs are minimal, projections for the future growthof renewable electricity generation are significant, with perhaps over 50% of the nation¶selectricity needs to be met by renewable resources by the year 2050.This growth is, however, largely dependent on state and federal legislation.As of nowthere is minimal federal support that encourages the development of renewable resources, withfederal assistance takingprimarily the form of production, investment, and manufacturing taxcredits.While these tax credits do indeed subsidize the cost of renewable resources therebyencouraging growth, the status of these credits has been quite volatile, therefore inducinginvestor uncertainty.A number of states have, on the other hand, implemented RenewablePortfolio Standards that mandate the state¶s electricity portfolio to utilize a certain percentage of renewable resources by a given date.These Renewable Portfolio Standards demonstrate statewillingness to embrace renewable resources, yet without comprehensive federal support and acomparable national commitment to renewable resources true potential cannot yet be realized.In addition to the implementation of renewable resources, transmission of electricity is acritical component of this discussion. Firstly, the geographic distribution of renewable resourcesis such that it requires long distance high-voltage transmission from the site of generation to thesite of consumption.Much of this infrastructure does not yet exist, therefore limiting the extent towhich renewable resource electricity generation can grow without serious developments to thetransmission infrastructure.Additionally, wind and solar power generation are intermittent producers of electricity, reliant on the ebb and flow of the natural conditions of a given day.This presents complications for grid management that must be addressed to best utilize theseresources.While extensive development of the nation¶s transmission infrastructure would have broadly based economic benefit for the individual and for the nation as a whole, there are threecentral barriers that have prevented notable progress: planning, payment, and permitting.A lack of authoritative federal oversight results in an uncoordinated effort to implement transmissioninfrastructure, therefore creating general disagreement and overall stagnation.Individual statesand regions are unable to realize the broad economic benefit of developed infrastructure, therebyresulting in a failure to broadly allocate costs and a failure to efficiently design and implementnew high-voltage transmission.Granting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority tocreate nation-wide transmission plans, broadly allocate the costs, and to site the path of transmission infrastructure would likely alleviate these concerns, thereby allowing the UnitedStates to fully realize the true potential of renewable resource electricity production.
Renewable energy electricity production is that which is generated utilizing naturalresources that are perpetually replenished.These perpetually replenishing resources includeenergy from the sun, wind, flowing water, and of the earth¶s hot core.This generation of electricityis in contrast to fossil fuel electricity generation, which uses finite natural resourcessuch as coal, natural gas, or petroleum.These fossil fuel resources have a number of negativeconsequences, making them unviable for meeting the electricity needs of the future.Mostnotably, the use of fossil fuels for electricity productionemits a number of harmful greenhousegases, including sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter, a problem of increasing severity as the globe faces concerns of climatechange.Additionally, these finite fossil fuels are just that ± finite.It is unrealistic and irresponsibleto use these resources to depletion, for there exists an alternative path using renewable energy.Perhaps more important than the actual generation of electricity from renewableresources is the transmission of electricity from where it is produced to where it isused.Renewable resources are most oftenlocated in areas that are geographically distant fromwhere the electricity is to be used, therefore requiring extensive transmission infrastructure.Thisinfrastructure does not yet exist and will be of critical importance if renewable electricity production is to play a significant role in the U.S. electricity portfolio.In this report I will first discuss the current electricity generation portfolio of the UnitedStates and the role of renewable energy.I will elaborate upon the relevant federal and statelegislation that plays a large role in supporting (or failure to support) the growth anddevelopment of renewable generation.Subsequently I will outline each form of renewableelectricity generation in the United States ± wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and enhanced

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