The Biden administration on Wednesday announced $3.5 billion in awards for projects aimed at strengthening the resiliency and reliability of the U.S. electric grid, enabling the deployment of cleaner and cheaper energy, marking the largest direct investment in the US electric grid.
The new investments will be funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, with the projects expected to generate more than $8 billion in federal and private investment.
The announcement comes as underinvestment in electricity networks threatens to pose a significant barrier to achieving global climate goals. According to a report published earlier this week by the International Energy Agency (IEA), 80 million kilometers of power lines will need to be added or replaced worldwide by 2040, about the same as the entire global electricity grid today, with investments doubling to more than 600 billion dollars. per year by 2030, to stay on track to meet the Paris Agreement target of limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C, and to keep pace with the increasing deployment of new renewable energy capacity.
The new announcements represent the first round of selections under the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program, which funds activities to reduce the impact of natural disasters and extreme weather, help unlock solar, wind and other clean energy sources by improving reliability of the network, flexibility and efficiency, and deploy innovative approaches to the transmission, storage and distribution of electricity.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the investments will help bring more than 35 GW of new renewable energy online and invest in 400 microgrids. The projects also support the government’s Justice40 initiative, which aims to direct 40% of the benefits of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities and those experiencing the worst impacts of climate change.
US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said:
“Extreme weather events, fueled by climate change, will continue to strain the nation’s aging transmission systems, but President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will ensure the U.S. electric grid can deliver reliable, affordable energy. Today’s announcement represents the largest-ever direct investment in critical grid infrastructure, supporting projects that will harden systems, improve energy reliability and affordability – all while creating union jobs for highly skilled workers.”