State of the art high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines like the Grain Belt Express are widely recognized as being one of the most important technologies for ensuring electric system reliability, especially as Americans use more renewable energy and face more extreme weather events. Grain Belt Express is designed to deliver renewable energy generated in Kansas eastward to Missouri and other states in the Midwest and other regions. As shown on the map above, Grain Belt Express will provide connections between three of the largest power markets that make up America’s electrical grid:
- The Southwest Power Pool (SPP)
- The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO)
- The PJM Interconnection (PJM)
Creating a new energy infrastructure link between SPP, MISO and PJM will increase electric system reliability for each region and the states and consumers that are part of those markets. Here’s how:
Reliability Through Renewable Energy Diversity
Grain Belt Express will diversify the energy mix available to consumers in the markets where it delivers power. Energy diversity and reliability are closely related in the operation of the electric grid. For renewable energy resources, geographic diversity in particular is important because wind and solar output changes following weather patterns and times of day. An energy mix that includes renewable energy sources from diverse locations is a more balanced, reliable energy mix.
Emergency Two-Way Power Flow
Grain Belt’s HVDC technology allows power to be precisely controlled to flow both eastward and westward. This is especially important when regional conditions require grid operators to rely on imported supply from other regions to meet power needs. In February 2021, severe winter weather led to rolling blackouts across the Midwest that affected Kansas and Missouri. During this severe weather emergency, had Grain Belt Express been operational and been called upon by grid operators, the line would have made it possible to import substantial amounts of excess electricity supply from the PJM market to help alleviate or avoid outages in the Midwest.