The Biden administration announced on Wednesday $3.5 billion of awards for projects aimed at strengthening electric grid resilience and reliability across the U.S., enabling the deployment of cleaner and lower cost energy, marking the largest-ever direct investment in the U.S. electric grid.
The new investments will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, with the projects expected to leverage more than $8 billion in federal and private investments.
The announcement comes as underinvestment in electricity grids threatens to form a significant barrier towards the achievement of global climate goals. According to a report released earlier this week by the International Energy Agency (IEA), 80 million kilometers of power lines will need to be added or replaced globally by 2040, roughly equal to the entire global grid today, with investment doubling to over $600 billion per year by 2030, in order to remain on track to achieve the Paris Agreement goal to limit temperature rise to 1.5 °C, and to keep up with the increasing deployment of new renewable energy capacity.
The new announcements represents 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 increasing grid reliability, flexibility and efficiency, and deploy innovative approaches to electricity transmission, storage, and distribution.
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 administration’s Justice40 initiative, which targets directing 40% of clean energy investment benefits to disadvantaged communities, and those experiencing the worst impacts of climate change.
U.S 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 America’s power grid can provide reliable, affordable power. 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 generating union jobs for highly skilled workers.”