John Oliver explains the U.S. energy grid and the problem of upgrading it for America’s electrical future

“Electrical energy is such an integral a part of trendy life it’s laborious to imagine that we used to should promote folks on the concept of electrical home equipment,” John Oliver stated on Sunday’s Final Week Tonight, exhibiting a TV advert from 1959. “Particularly tonight we will speak concerning the energy grid, the system of mills that produce electrical energy and the huge latticework of wires that get it to our properties. The grid might be one thing that you simply in all probability do not assume a lot about until it goes down — which, sadly, has been occurring increasingly more in recent times.”

“Whereas issues are dangerous now, they may get quite a bit worse sooner or later, as a result of the U.S. has a aim of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — which we completely should meet,” Oliver stated. “However one research estimates that is going to require a 40-60 p.c in peak electrical energy consumption,” with the shift to electrical vehicles and heating, and “all that electrical energy goes to have to come back from someplace.”

The U.S. energy grids — 600,000 miles of transmission traces and 5.5 million miles of native distribution traces — have been known as the “supreme engineering achievement of the twentieth century,” Oliver stated. However most energy traces are long gone their 50-year life expectations, and local weather change has made them extra weak.

Upgrading the grid would require plenty of little adjustments, however “our shift to renewable vitality goes to require a basic shift in what our grid seems like,” Oliver stated. You may construct coal vegetation close to massive coastal cities, however most wind farms will have to be in center America, and it might be an “uphill battle” to persuade “a Midwestern farmer ‘We have to construct one thing in your yard so somebody in California can energy their electrical automotive.'” Fortunately, “the bodily technology of renewable vitality is not actually the issue right here,” he stated. “The key issue is the transmission of it.” And there are fixes for that, too, although not simple or low cost ones.

“For a lot too lengthy, every time we have expertise blackouts, we have tended to think about it as the ability grid failing,” Oliver stated,  “however the fact is, it isn’t failing us — we’re failing it by asking it to do one thing it was not designed to do in situations that it was not designed to deal with.” He ended his present with a bang, then a slight whimper. | John Oliver explains the U.S. energy grid and the problem of upgrading it for America’s electrical future


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