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High-Voltage Power Lines Are Ugly, and the U.S. Needs More

Transmission capacity is the key to solar and wind power generation.

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Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Places where the sun shines bright and the wind blows hard aren’t always places where a lot of people live. High-voltage transmission lines are needed to bring electricity from renewable energy installations to the towns and cities where it’s consumed. The U.S. is way behind other countries in building these lines.

Fact: Since 2014, China has built 260 gigawatts of interregional transmission capacity that’s come on line or will come on line in the next few years, according to a report this month by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid. Europe is way behind at 44GW, followed by South America at 22GW and India at 12GW. Then comes North America at 7GW, with only 3GW in the U.S. (That’s the TransWest Express LLC project, which will carry power from wind turbines in Wyoming to customers in Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California.)