Clean Energy — The North American Way

Published on 19 Aug, 2016

Alternate Energy Research

The North American continent has united to embrace clean energy for the future.

The US, Canada, and Mexico have joined hands to harness carbon-free energy sources such as wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear, increasing their collective use of carbon free sources for power generation to 50% by 2025.

Canada is leading the pack, already generating more than 50% of its total energy requirements from carbon-free sources. The US produces just one-third, while Mexico manages just 19%.

Overall, North America generates just 37% of its power supply from clean energy sources.


Inadequate Existing Infrastructure Could be a Big Hurdle

The 50% target is going to be an uphill task for the US and Mexico.

It’ll be a struggle alright, not just because of its inherent magnitude and complexity, but also due to other crucial factors like poor infrastructure; something that really needs to catch up if it’s going to effectively support a world of carbon-free power generation.

The US and Mexico don’t exactly have a stellar network of transmission lines right now. For instance, the windy regions of Texas and Iowa or the sunny corners of Nevada and California are quite cut off from grids in other parts of the country.

There’s a dire need for dependable grids, especially in regions without adequate sources of clean energy that need to tap into their neighbor’s supply. It’ll be the only way to really wean them off of conventional (read more polluting) sources of power.


Grids Without Borders

One of the key aspects of this agreement is cross-border power transmission.

It’s an agreement between the three countries that allows transmission of carbon-free energy from production assets to their nearest areas of need, among any of the three countries, at the lowest possible prices.

The project would be supported by a set of domestic initiatives and policies.

Existing initiatives and policies include Mexico’s Energy Transition Law and new clean energy certificates, the U.S. Clean Power Plan and five-year extension of production and investment tax credits, as well as Canada’s efforts to further scale up renewable energy (including hydro).


Investing in a Bright Future

According to industry estimates, the overall investment required for this commitment would be around USD 1 trillion.

At least USD 130 billion of that would be just to upgrade power grids and transmission infrastructure. Other big investments would involve setting up carbon-free energy plants as well as energy storage infrastructure. The overall budget is likely to go well beyond these initial estimates however, given the project’s scope and other macroeconomic factors.

The project is a brilliant opportunity for companies that dabble in setting up transmission lines, power grids, energy storage infra, as well as other facets of renewable energy projects.  The push for better infrastructure alone could generate a huge number of jobs in the clean energy domain over the coming years. 

If this ambitious endeavor comes to fruition, it could help North American countries scale up civil and industrial sectors without compromising their clean environment. It’ll also pave the way for a more serious clean energy revolution, showing communities the world over how collaborative effort can make a better tomorrow.