Go to podcast
by Kleinman Center for Energy Policy
Energy Policy Now

Why Is it So Hard to Build the Electric Grid of the Future?


America’s electric grid is ill-equipped to enable the low carbon energy system of the future. A grid policy expert explores the policy and economic changes that will be needed to bring the grid up to date.


There is little doubt that the electricity system of the future will look very different from the system that we have today. In the U.S., a growing number of states and the federal government have set 100% clean energy goals for the middle of this century or earlier. The growing demand for clean energy is already evident in fact that wind and solar power now account for the overwhelming majority of new additions to the nation’s power generation fleet.

Yet building an electricity grid to accommodate large amounts of renewable energy raises a host of challenges. The most important of these will be to manage the intermittent nature of wind and solar energy to ensure that reliable power is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Rob Gramlich, President of Grid Strategies and a former economic advisor to the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, discusses strategies to manage all that clean energy, and the hurdles that will need to be overcome to expand the nation’s electric grid and allow wind and solar power to be reliably transmitted, often over hundreds of miles of power lines, to markets throughout the country. To reach this goal, existing frameworks used to plan and pay for electric transmission may need to be fundamentally reworked.

Rob Gramlich is President of Grid Strategies, which provides engineering, economic, and policy analysis for the electric power system. Rob is also Director of Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, the Watt Coalition, and he is a former economic advisor to the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Related Content

Electricity Storage and Renewables: How Investments Change as Technology Improves https://kleinmanenergy.upenn.edu/research/publications/electricity-storage-and-renewables-how-investments-change-as-technology-improves/

Have We Reached Peak Carbon Emissions?https://kleinmanenergy.upenn.edu/research/publications/have-we-reached-peak-carbon-emissions/

The Opportunities and Limitations of Seasonal Energy Storage https://kleinmanenergy.upenn.edu/research/publications/the-opportunities-and-limitations-of-seasonal-energy-storage/


Episode 20

Season 5

by Kleinman Center for Energy Policy