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Wildfires from Power Lines // $4.5 Billion to Bolster Grid // Dutch to Build New Nuclear

Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: A federal initiative is looking for ways to reduce wildfires caused by fallen power lines. Plus a company invests billions of dollars to bolster energy grids worldwide.

Initiative Aims to Reduce Wildfires from Power Lines

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin are creating a methodology to better understand how utilities can prevent wildfires caused by power lines and better protect the grid during these incidents. Power lines have been responsible for sparking some of the most damaging wildfires in recent memory including the Camp Fire in California in 2021 which killed 85 people.

Alexandre Moreira, a research scientist at LBNL, recently wrote about the initiative in UtilityDive:

“The methodology being developed by LBNL, in partnership with the University of Michigan and the University of Washington, can help system planners and operators to explicitly consider how power flow levels through power lines can increase ignition probability within high-threat areas. Essentially, the developed methodology considers different investment alternatives — for example, line coating, line undergrounding, installation of line segments through alternative paths paired with strategic placement of switching devices, etc. — and provides the portfolio of actions that will increase the flexibility of the system to deal with wildfire-prone weather conditions and minimize service disruptions.”

Hitachi Energy Invests $4.5 Billion to Bolster Grid

Hitachi Energy will invest $4.5 billion in manufacturing, engineering, digital, R&D, and partnerships across all major markets through 2027, Electrek reports. This comes on the heels of a $1.5 billion investment announced in April to boost transformer production.

Since 2020 Hitachi’s order backlog has more than tripled to over $30 billion. The Zurich-based company has recently inked deals to provide HVDC transmission solutions to utilities in France, Germany, and Australia and service contracts for the SunZia Transmission Project in New Mexico.

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