The consequences of slow expansion of power grids in the US and China

Power lines are turning into a bottleneck for the energy transition. Without a modern power grid, green energy won’t reach electric steel mills, EVs and heat pumps that make up a green economy. According to the think tank Bloomberg NEF, global power grids need to be expanded to 152 million kilometers by 2050 to achieve climate goals – twice the existing length.

This expansion would require 21 trillion dollars in global investments by 2050, with more than a third of these investments needed in China and the United States. If these two countries do not expedite their grid expansions, the energy transition could be seriously threatened, warn experts.
The US power grid could become one of the biggest bottlenecks in the country’s energy transition. According to a Princeton University study, the grid would have to be expanded twice as fast as in the last decade for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the billion-euro program for the green transformation of the United States, to achieve its full effect. The study says that if expansion is not ramped up, more than 80 percent of the potential emissions reductions from IRA measures could be lost.

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China is expected to invest slightly more than 80 billion euros in expanding its power grid this year. While this is a substantial sum, it falls short of what is needed. Investments should be increased to match the record-high investments in renewable power generation, says Run Zhang, China Project Manager at Agora Energiewende.
“The imbalance between record-high investment in renewable generation and relatively low investment in the power grid may be a barrier to accelerating China’s clean energy transition,” says Kevin Tu of Agora Energiewende.

  • Donovan Forrest

    35 w

    Unplug the AC adapter

    • Johannes Luiga

      35 w

      Unfortunately the same problem exists in Sweden too

      • Sarah Chabane

        36 w

        This is very interesting, we had a discussion on this at Climate Week NYC and learned a lot

        • Munene Mugambi

          36 w

          Grids should only be approved if they're taking into account green energy and major companies in towns or cities to help such places get access to clean energy

          • Tabitha Kimani

            36 w

            U.S and China should embark on grid expansions now.

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