The Biden administration is considering a largely unused strategy to bring renewable energy projects online sooner and at a lower cost, according to E&E News’ ENERGYWIRE (subscription).
What’s going on: “The concept is called advanced reconductoring, and studies show it holds the potential to help break a growing logjam in delivering new renewable power to meet the Biden administration’s steep clean energy goals.”
- “The idea is to restring existing high-voltage towers with new cables employing state-of-the-art carbon fiber or aluminum alloy materials.”
Why it’s important: The wires are capable of carrying up to twice the current of conventional steel and aluminum cables, which “in turn would accelerate a surge in transmission capacity without the long wait times and landowner fights that have plagued many earlier projects.”
- Advanced reconductoring, which uses existing transmission lines, could do much of the heavy lifting in helping the U.S. reach President Biden’s decarbonization goals.
- A reconductoring project could cost half as much as a new transmission line and be ready far sooner, the Department of Energy reported in 2020.
However … “[I]nitial sticker shock poses a big obstacle, despite long-term cost gains. Even though reconductoring is cheaper than building new projects, advanced wires are more expensive than traditional wires. DOE concluded the construction cost of advanced cables ranges from 1 ½ to 5 times that of conventional conductors.”
- What’s more, reconductoring may not be the answer to every project, as it is “highly location specific,” one source told the news outlet.