Many nations have expressed the desire to produce clean energy, but in reality, it’s easier said than done.
For example, more than a decade ago, Germany’s chancellor announced that the country would close down all of its nuclear power plants.
At the time there were 17 nuclear power plants in Germany – now, there are three, and they’re supposed to close soon.
So, for Germany (and many European countries), the result of moving toward clean energy meant relying on Russian natural gas.
But, as we all know, that changed when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Before the war, Germany relied on Russia for almost half its imported natural gas.
Since the war began, countries like Germany have been forced to find natural gas elsewhere, and the result has been an increase in energy costs.
Now, Germans pay the highest electricity prices in the world. Their energy prices have doubled since 2000.
For example, Germans paid on average 40.07 cents per kilowatt hour in 2022. The previous year they paid 32.16 cents per kilowatt hour.
(In comparison, Americans pay an average rate of 15.85 cents per kilowatt hour.)
All of the issues with the transition to clean energy have sent Germany backwards, forcing the nation to become reliant on burning coal.
Germany is more reliant on coal than the U.S., and the government has even incentivized the use of more coal-fired power plants.
The reality is that countries all over the world are facing an energy crisis similar to Germany.
And the U.S. is not in much better shape.
Even with all the supposed advancements in energy production, the U.S. grid is tottering on the edge of collapse.
Experts have been warning about it for years, but their words have fallen on deaf ears.
So, here are a few reasons why the grid is still at an enormous risk for catastrophic failure.
Old and not being updated:
Today, over 70% of the U.S. electrical grid is over 25 years old.
Not only is it old, but the grid is designed to bring energy from where fossil fuels are burned to where the energy is used.
In other words, as the U.S. moves away from fossil fuels it will require a new power grid for different sources of power.
The same transmission lines that move fossil fuel energy will either need to be replaced or upgraded to move solar or wind-powered energy.
Federal or state responsibility?:
It’s estimated that power grid modernization will cost at least $12 billion. The problem is that in 2022 regulators only approved around $478 million in funding.
The power grids are an area shared by federal and state jurisdictions, which means they both share authority and funding.
The states and the federal government don’t exactly work well together, as is evident over the last six years.
And this contentious relationship has contributed to many of the issues surrounding updating the U.S. power grid.
To make matters worse, some states (like California) want to move to clean energy, while other states want to continue using fossil fuels.
Where the sun doesn’t shine:
There is a big push to use “green” energy sources like solar and wind.
But these are not as reliable as their advocates would have you believe.
For instance, solar energy would not make sense in places such as Alaska. The state has harsh weather and is sparsely populated.
And it would be challenging for solar panels and systems to withstand the conditions.
Plus, the energy produced from wind or solar would have to be moved over great distances since the population is so spread out.
And there are plenty of places where the wind doesn’t blow enough to produce any meaningful energy, which just means it would need to be pulled from other areas.
The bottom line is that the U.S. power grid is nowhere as reliable and updated as it needs to be.
In 2016, the average electricity customer went without power for about three hours… but in 2021, it was about seven hours.
Even worse, by 2030, it’s estimated that U.S. electricity demand will increase by 15%-20%.
Meaning, we will experience more power outages before things get better.
And I wouldn’t hold my breath for the government and power companies to figure things out anytime soon.
Which means you need to have a plan in place to deal with a long-term power outage.