The Grid

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One thing most people don’t realize is that the most immediate impediment to commercially viable wind power has nothing to do with wind power technology. Rather, the problem is that the electrical grid doesn’t have enough capacity to transmit the power from where the wind is to where electricity gets used. And this isn’t a technological problem either. As Matthew Wald writes in The New York Times “unlike answers to many of the nation’s energy problems, improvements to the grid would require no new technology.”

There are various roadblocks here, but the main thing is that it would be expensive to build — $60 billion they say. At the same time, that’s six months worth of Iraq spending, and unlike Iraq spending it would actually be a productive investment with meaningful return to the American economy over and above the environmental benefits. You hear a lot of talk about “green jobs” and it sometimes seems disingenuous — either jobs schemes with a questionable green rationale, or green schemes yoked awkwardly into economic nationalism. But the jobs associated with upgrading the electrical grid would obviously have to be done in the United States and the green element is extremely real.