High Wire Act
A new report from World Resources Institute, High Wire Act examines the relationship of renewable energy and transmission in the European Union, China, and the United States. Supported by the HSBC Climate Change Centre of Excellence, the research highlights how, in all three markets, transmission is currently a bottleneck to maximizing renewable energy’s cost-effective contribution to the power mix.
The main message for policy makers crafting renewable energy policies and for investors seeking to be a part of this $240 billion a year market is a simple one. Transmission constraints have to be addressed upfront to improve the chances of reaping the long-term rewards of a future powered by renewable energy.
As the report highlights, transmission policy has not kept pace with clean energy ambitions, largely as a result of concerns over associated costs and reliability. Transmission decisions are also shaped as much by complex politics as they are by economics. A deep tension between locally borne costs and national or supra-national benefits emerges over and over again. Local communities are reluctant to accept large infrastructure when most of the benefits are seen at the national level rather than locally. Each region examined in this report is uniquely grappling with this “local” versus “larger society” tension, based on its own political and regulatory norms.