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Energy: Can the US Make its Power Grid Resilient?

By Dick Weisinger

The blistering heat wave from the Summer of 2021 has shown that climate change is happening at a rapid pace. The heat wreaked has wreaked havoc on the nation’s power grid.

High temperatures make elements of the grid fail or work less efficiently. High temperatures also put a much greater load on the system as users turn on air conditioning to cool their living spaces. Temperatures above 100 degrees can cause transformers to overheat and fail. The metal in power lines will expand when heated, causing wires to sag and come in contract with nearby objects, sometimes triggering automatic shutoffs or causing the wires to be potential hazards.

Kyri Baker, an engineering professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, said that “I would probably give our power grid maybe a C minus. It’s like this perfect storm of extreme temperatures, more electricity consumption, and aging infrastructure.”

What can be done to make the power grid more resillient? Some ideas include:

Many people point to the benefits that we’ve gained from infrastructure that was built in the 1950’s. Unfortunately, infrastructure has been a low priority for many years. Faith Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said that “spending today is far below the levels needed for cleaner, more electrified energy systems, particularly in emerging and developing economies.”

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