Yesterdays New York Times wrote about how the demand for wind generation is exceeding the transmission required to deliver that energy. While the article is correct that more wind can be integrated without new technology, intelligent systems (all part of the smart grid) could act as a bridge during the years to decades required to propose, permit, and construct a new transmission line.
Advanced technology can make more efficient use of existing facilities and corridors. Real-time transmission line ratings and special protection schemes allow operators to run the grid closer to its true limit under varying conditions. Storage devices can smooth out the momentary peaks from wind gusts, allowing more total energy flows through a smaller line.
New technologies can also increase the capacity of existing corridors. Old power lines can be replaced with advanced materials that withstand greater stress. Transformers can step up to higher voltages which transmit more energy with fewer losses. Finally, underground transmission lines can be placed in non-electricity rights-of-way.
None of these technologies will help, however, if there is no transmission line or corridor to the wind turbines in the first place. For that, we must call on Congress, FERC, the RTOs, state commissions, and environmental agencies to hash out a plan to balance climate and environmental protection with our growing energy needs.