Permitting stands in the way of a fossil-free electric grid

Washington D.C. Correspondent
Chart of U.S. clean energy projects in the permitting queue in 2022

Source: U.S. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory • Other includes biomass, oil and geothermal energy.

With the White House and members of the United States Congress debating how to expedite the nation’s permitting process for energy projects, a recent Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study shows what’s at stake.

The researchers found over 10,200 projects were applying to connect to the U.S. power grid at the end of 2022. The roughly 1,250 gigawatts (GW) of wind and solar capacity waiting to be hooked up exceeds the estimated amount needed to almost completely decarbonize the grid by 2035. However, the study authors caution that just under a quarter of projects seeking interconnection have reached commercial operation in the past.

A rapid transition of the nation’s electric sector will require “unlocking the queues and clearing the bottlenecks,” lead author Joseph Rand told Cipher. Rand expects even more projects are getting in line for connection in 2023, exacerbating the trend.