Higher efficiency plus broadband without unsightly towers
Major highways connecting cities across the country could someday be used to deliver green energy and high-speed internet service.
Wisconsin already has the “playbook” to make it happen, says a new study by the Wisconsin Technology Center that calls for the use of underground high-voltage power lines and broad-band cable along highway rights of way.
Underground power systems, aimed at delivering wind-generated electricity from rural areas to cities, could address several problems, said WTC President, Tom Still.
First, the buried lines would draw fewer objections from property owners facing the prospect of above ground towers and wires running across their land.
Second, the lines would be less vulnerable to storms, and even terrorist attacks that could cause widespread power outages.
Third, fiber internet cable could be bundled in the same trenches as the power lines to deliver internet service to rural areas.
The US electric grid is a complex web of power lines reaching nearly everywhere. It has been largely based on alternating current (AC) technology that for decades has proven safe and reliable.
“However, the AC power lines that criss-cross the nation are tangled and ill-suited to quicky move large amounts of renewable power from energy-producing regions with low demand, such as the Midwest and Southwest, to large population centers”, says the Federation of American Scientists.
A better choice would be high-voltage direct current (HVDC) systems that lose less power over long distances. Those systems would also support along-the-road charging of electric vehicles and advanced communications needed for autonomous vehicles.
One of the first underground HVDC systems has been planned for railroad rights-of-way from Mason City, Iowa, to the Chicago area.
This article by Charlie Mitchell is excerpts from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article by Rick Barrett, published July 26, 2022.