SEAM Study Released (with Big Implications for Oklahoma)
As promised earlier this year by OREC guest speaker Loyd Drain, the SEAM Study from The National Renewable Energy Laboratories has been released. They held a large symposium at Iowa State University on July 26, 2018. The study itself was released there, and multiple guest speakers presented on topics related to the study.
The SEAM Study deals with the American electrical transmission infrastructure. Our infrastructure is aging, and the ever-increasing demand for intermittent renewable energies stresses the grid and creates a challenge for grid operators (California Duck Curve). The long-term, strategic resources of wind and solar are far away (geographically) from the largest population centers. There also seems to be a consensus that other countries and regions (like China and Europe) have passed the United States in technology and strategies in this field.
Oklahoma is affected by these stresses on the grid, and we also contribute to it. The intermittency of the wind can be great from day-to-day or even hour-to-hour. As winds die down, other generation must ramp up to meet that demand, so connecting diverse resources improves the resiliency of the grid. Connecting our entire nation together as one large grid would allow for maximum efficiency as we match energy resources to load.
The benefit, our course, to Oklahoma would be that we are a net energy exporter. In a market favoring renewables and quick responding conventional production (like natural gas), Oklahoma would be well positioned to capitalize on our natural resources (great news, we won’t ever run out of wind). I would be in favor of supporting a national grid expansion, further interconnection, and other energy infrastructure investments for this reason.
Overall, the net benefit will be proportional to the amount of support Oklahoma gives to a plan like SEAM; i.e. if we embrace it, we could create many new jobs and tax revenue streams, but if we pick sides and squabble, the jobs and economic benefits go elsewhere.
Links to presentations and study: