How renewable energy is on the rise in US infrastructure
The growing concerns about climate change can’t be understated, with questions surrounding the future of the planet on the lips of everyone across the globe.
From politicians to private citizens, many people are asking can anything be done before it’s too late and if so, how will we do it? In response to the growing data and demand for action, the renewable sector is expanding rapidly, and green solutions are being woven into everyday infrastructure.
The very nature of infrastructure means it has to be updated frequently to meet changing needs and requirements, whether that be shifting populations or the need to reduce CO2 emissions. As we reach what’s been identified as the last chance to limit global warming to 1.5C, the incentive to introduce green or carbon-neutral elements has never been higher, and this is reflected in many new and planned projects.
An increasing number of electrical companies, both in transmission and distribution, are looking at and using grid-enhancing technologies that allow transmission operators to see a line’s potential operating capacity in almost real-time by assessing data such as ambient temperatures and line sag.
As renewable energy sources become more prominent and are used with increasing frequency across the country, power lines have to be able to respond to the projected changes in the supply mix. One powerline company that operates in 13 states is seeing 90% of the new proposed generation projects coming from wind, solar, storage, or hybrid sources. While the company doesn’t own any of the renewable energy structures, they will need to be able to adapt to the combinations of mixes.
The introduction of dynamic power lines can also help run additional energy generation onto a system by allowing transmission operators to run power lines at higher capacity levels safely, allowing users to access even more renewable energy easier.
Hydrogen in the home
While some infrastructure upgrades are being made to existing elements, such as power lines, whole new industries are forging new paths; one prime example would be hydrogen. Already an emerging economy, hydrogen is being considered across the US as more and more groups are finding and promoting ways to produce low-carbon hydrogen at scale.
The US Department of Energy has recently requested information from hydrogen stakeholders regarding how they plan to develop their hydrogen resources. Requested as part of a program known as Hydrogen Shot, a program that aims to cut low-carbon hydrogen costs by 80% to $1 a kg within the next decade.
While the information requested revealed that most of the hydrogen stakeholders planned to utilize the US’s vast abundance of natural gas to create what’s known as “blue hydrogen.” While this is less than ideal as far as renewable energy sources go, “green hydrogen” is not out of the race just yet. Most industry observers expect renewable energy sources capable of creating hydrogen with zero carbon emissions to take the lead in the future.
While green hydrogen may be more inefficient in comparison to blue at the time of writing, many states have facilities that are capable of producing carbon-free hydrogen and already do so. The first green hydrogen hub in Los Angeles has outlined a plan for a pure hydrogen pipeline system that will connect to storage facilities in Nevada and Utah.
Hawaii County has been developing its own green hydrogen vehicle network for several years now and is currently looking for funding to build fueling and trucking infrastructure that will support hydrogen. Also looking for funding to help fleets transition, their Department of Research and Development has identified hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as best at providing flexibility, range, and performance when considering Hawaii’s landscape.
Getting the green light from the government
These plans for renewable energy have also received the backing of the current White House administration, flagging the change in direction more clearly. With the support of the White House, renewable energy companies can form tax-advantaged partnerships the same way companies in oil and gas can.
This expansion will allow the renewable energy sector to form MLP’s, master limited partnerships that combine the funding advantages of corporations with the tax advantages of partnerships. Something that would allow and encourage investors to directly invest in renewable energy.
Recruiting for the future
With the rapid expansion, laying of plans, and government support for green technology, energy companies will need to find highly skilled workers who can hit the ground running. As a rapidly developing sector that becomes increasingly integral to everyday life, it’s no surprise that the green economy already employs ten times as many people as the fossil fuel industry, a statistic that is only set to grow.
With so many more jobs on the way as individual states pick up renewable energy projects, recruiters can aid searching companies by utilizing their existing networks of vetted candidates and find the right person for the job time after time.
If you need help recruiting for a role, not just in the renewable energy sector but across our portfolio of industries, contact us here to arrange a discussion where we can meet your needs as an employer.