Challenge #1: Transmission: Bringing Renewables to Market
By Jenny Liu, Manager, Transmission
This is the second post in the "We Solve Energy Challenges" blog series. The first post can be found here.
As the U.S. brings more renewable energy online, high-voltage transmission lines connect wind and solar farms to consumers miles and miles away. They are like suspension bridges enabling renewable energy to pass from where it is generated to where it is needed most. But transmission line access is limited. Many existing lines lack sufficient capacity, and often where there is a need, lines don’t exist at all.
This is uniquely challenging for renewable energy projects. Renewable projects must be located where the fuel supply – wind and sunshine – is the strongest. But areas with the best wind and solar availability, such as the central U.S., often lack transmission connections to large population centers where energy demand is greatest. So how do we tackle the challenge of getting renewable power across long distances to market?
At Invenergy, our transmission team is vital to making our renewable generation projects competitive even against projects that may be located closer to load. Securing transmission interconnections near high-quality renewable sites is a huge part of this. So is developing and building the lines that will connect our projects to the grid. As a company, we’ve developed over 400 miles of transmission lines and an additional 2,100 miles of distribution lines.
Successful transmission interconnections take deep technical expertise combined with strong industry relationships. In managing the interconnection process for renewable energy projects, our team is heavily involved in all stages of project development. During early stages of development, we perform available transfer capability (ATC) studies to determine the best points of interconnection. During mid-stages of development, we submit interconnection requests and review interconnection studies performed by the utilities and Independent System Operators (ISOs). And during the late stages, we negotiate interconnection agreements with the utilities and ISOs.
That’s just the development process. We’re also heavily involved in the engineering, design and construction of transmission and gen-tie lines. Each project is different and each one requires innovative thinking in addition to technical know-how in order to achieve the most cost-effective solution.
For example, let’s take a look at Invenergy’s largest wind development project to date and what will be North America’s largest wind farm. The Wind Catcher Energy Connection is a proposed 2,000-megawatt wind farm in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Rogers and Hammerstein where right in describing Oklahoma as “where the wind comes sweeping down the plains”! And thanks to plans for a 350-mile dedicated power line stretching east to Tulsa, low-cost wind energy from western Oklahoma could soon reach more than 1.1 million customers throughout the south-central U.S.
Renewable energy provides affordable and predictable electricity prices, economic development in local communities and pollution-free power. Investing in transmission infrastructure is essential to support significant additions of renewable generation. At Invenergy, we’re not just focused on power generation, we’re building the network to connect it all together. Have a background working on electrical transmission? Come join us in building the renewable future.
Be sure to follow Invenergy on LinkedIn for job opportunities!
Transmission job openings: