New technology, increased demand for renewable energy, the age of America’s power grids and their vulnerability to cyberattacks are the drivers that are now shaking the very foundation of the energy sector. Therefore, a new marketplace is emerging and it is coming at warp speed. A marketplace that deserves watching. A multi-trillion-dollar marketplace.
While change is positive, it does not come without its challenges.
Local and state governments are responding in a variety of ways to improve their grids, create more storage capacity and increase their reliance on clean renewable energy sources.
Increases in power production, particularly in renewable energy segments, significantly strain the nation’s power grids. One estimate of what will be spent to revamp, expand and repair the country’s system of grids over the next decade is as high as $5 trillion. Most grids were not constructed with the capacity to accommodate wind and solar generation. And storage options are minimal currently. Technology advances with the potential to lower costs and ward off cyber dangers are considered critical.
Renewable projects are becoming ever more frequent in New York City. The city has been a leader in the use of renewable energy and has mandates established to eventually get 100% of its power from renewables. For example, a coalition has been formed that includes the University of Buffalo, SUNY Buffalo State, SUNY Erie, the city of Buffalo and Erie County. These entities are collaborating to meet sustainability goals by generating at least half the electricity they use. The partners say that the savings realized will offset all upfront capital investment.
Meanwhile, In March, a new solar project was announced. A contract was awarded for a solar rooftop installation on the Jacob K. Javits Center, the single largest rooftop solar installation in New York City.
In addition, the state of New York and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority have opened the third annual solicitation for large-scale renewable energy projects that will add to renewable electricity production. Two previous solicitations included 46 onshore wind and solar projects. The cost of contracts was approximately $2.9 billion. That partnership resulted in $7 billion in direct investments to the clean energy sector and the ability to power the equivalent of 1 million homes.
Other states are also carrying out energy projects that deserve to be monitored.
Traverse City recently became the first city in Michigan to commit to 100 percent renewable energy community-wide, not just in municipal facilities.
The BENCO Electric Cooperative in Minnesota will use a $25 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan to build or improve more than 150 miles of power lines and invest $2.7 million in smart grid technologies. The objective is to increase electric system efficiencies and grid security.
In New Mexico, the governor has approved millions of dollars to purchase electric vehicles for state workers. Additionally, $1.5 million will be used to construct solar-powered vehicle charging stations in parking state lots.
Florida State University is transitioning to an all-electric fleet of buses and officials say the switch will result in savings of more than $10 million.