The Biden administration recently announced new steps to expand clean energy and transmission deployment in an effort to decarbonise the US economy. Seven federal agencies shared elaborative plans to meet global climate goals that include eliminating emissions from the power sector and boosting renewable energy production from federal lands and waters.
As part of the new initiatives, the US Department of the Interior in February will hold its largest-ever lease sale for offshore wind power. The auction is aimed at covering more than 480,000 acres in the New York Bight off the coasts of New York and New Jersey and is projected to generate up to 7 GW of wind power – enough to power 2 million homes within the area. The lease sale will include provisions to encourage offshore wind projects to be built with union labour and domestically made materials, a White House fact sheet commented. Interior is launching a new interagency effort to improve coordination and streamline reviews for clean energy projects on federal lands. Participating agencies will include the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, and Energy, as well as the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The efforts are aimed at supporting the administration’s target to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030, and also help in fulfilling a congressional mandate to permit 25 GW of renewable energy on public lands by 2025. The Department of Energy (DOE) is creating a “Building a Better Grid” initiative, which is described as a ‘well-coordinated transmission deployment program’ aimed at helping the nation build long-distance, high-voltage transmission lines.
The initiative intends to use funding included in the infrastructure law to construct thousands of miles of transmission lines needed to bring power from clean energy sources to major demand centers. Different research studies have projected that the US will need to double or even triple its electric transmission capacity to meet the 2050 economy-wide decarbonisation target. Along the lines, The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is also examining potential transmission planning reforms. Additionally, the DOE’s initiative is seeking to improve the permitting process for transmission projects by designating national corridors in capacity-constrained areas and using public-private partnerships to accelerate upgrades and new projects.
The grid initiative will also support transmission research, development, and demonstration projects as well. A new $2.5 billion transmission facilitation program will be added to build new lines as well as repair and upgrade existing facilities. The legislation will provide more than $10 billion in grants to help states, tribes, and utilities strengthen the grid against future outages. “Today’s announcements build on a year of unprecedented progress on clean energy deployment,” the White House said in a fact sheet on the new initiatives.