Why we are doing almost nothing to move towards a supergrid

Here is a presentation about the back story of why we are so stuck in getting on with a credible response to climate change. I presented a version of these slides to one group at ABB, during my meeting with ABB in September 2010. This particular version was for my presentation to the Claverton Energy Conference in April 2012.

Why is it that governments are willing to spend billions on measuring climate change, but do not have a strategic investment plan to make a supergrid possible, since the supergrid is the most important piece of the needed response? Essentially, I think the supergrid is getting low priority in research because it is not understood by most decision-makers to be as important as it is, and is not perceived as easy by research insiders at DOE (for example). Compared to hot fusion, on which DOE has spent many billions of dollars, creating the needed technology for a supergrid is a piece of cake.

Perhaps DOE's woefully inadequate efforts on the supergrid is also due to the influence of the companies that have a lock on HVDC outside of Japan today (ABB, Siemens, and Alstom). I'm quite sure that it is not in these companies' interest for DOE to back transformational research on elpipes (which make it feasible to build a repairable underground supergrid), Ballistic Breakers (which make it feasible to have cost effective circuit breakers for the main trunk lines of a supergrid, which may carry 30 GW of power), or cold cathode vacuum tubes (which could lower the cost of voltage source converters "VSCs" significantly) for example. It is however in the US national interest to prevent these foreign companies from being the only source for HVDC equipment; perhaps someone at DOE will eventually realize that!

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