2030. While R&D will be important in reducing costs and improving equipment performance, the main challenges involve integrating the diverse technologies. Development of a nationwide strategy to modernize the U.S. T&D system will be an important first step.
The U.S. electric T&D infrastructure remains dependent upon technologies developed and deployed in the 1950s and 1960s. Recently, many factors, including changes in the regulatory structure of the power industry, have lowered the reliability of this critical national infrastructure.
While it is encouraging that the industry has greatly increased its T&D investment in the past several years, more is still needed to implement a modern grid capable of meeting future challenges—such as enabling power markets, intermittent renewable-electricity sources, and modern efficiency technologies—while maintaining reliability and security in the systems. The following findings relate to the issues that need to be addressed to modernize today’s electric T&D system so as to best serve our national needs over the coming decades:
Performance: The T&D system in the United States is not adequate to manage the reliability, peak loads, and diverse sources of power that will be needed to meet U.S. electrical needs over the next 20 years. However, many technologies capable of meeting these challenges are currently available or will be available before 2020. Significant progress in modernizing the systems could be achieved by 2020, and T&D system could be fully modernized by 2030.
Technology: Many advanced T&D technologies, including the following, are ready for deployment:
Advanced equipment. Many power electronics devices and transmission line technologies are currently commercially available and can be deployed before 2020. These technologies are not widely deployed at present.
Measurements, communications, and control. Most measurement, communications, and control technologies are currently available and can begin to be deployed before 2020; however, software development is still needed. Further work is needed to establish a standard communications protocol. Such a protocol could be deployable before 2020.