The problem with electricity is that we can only get it from place to place by having it flow over a conductive material. Usually this means that the electricity will flow or transmit over a conductive wire. It is true that electricity flowing through a wire moves at close to the speed of light, the hard part is that industrial power plants are often hundreds of miles away from populations that will use the electricity.
A 230 KV Single Circuit transmission line cost about $1,000,000 per mile to construct in 2014. That’s a major project killer right there. Even if your renewable energy source is only five miles away from an existing transmission line, that’s an additional $5 Mil that gets tacked on to the project cost. Unfortunately for us, a lot of the locations in the U.S. with a renewable energy source and enough land to support industrial power generation are not located in metropolitan areas. It would be pretty easy and cheap to put a bunch of solar panels in the middle of nowhere Nevada we just wouldn’t be able to get the electricity over to Las Vegas where they need it.
The cost of transmitting electricity is a large hurtle that must be overcome before we can start seeing larger percentages of our power generation coming from renewable sources. There are two possible solutions to this problem. First, we can develop new methods for transmitting large quantities of energy over long distances without physical wire. Second, we can switch our paradigm of electricity generation from massive centralized power plants to smaller localized generation. An example of the second method would be having all of the homes in a community supply their own power from solar PV.
If you or someone you know is using local renewable energy generation, please leave a comment below and let me know how it is working out for you.
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