The vacant strips of land along major highways could unlock a cleaner power grid and promote the uptake of electric vehicles, according to an 81-page feasibility study done for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
There are multiple benefits if high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines and fibre optic broadband are buried along existing highway rights of way, concludes the study by an Atlanta transportation group and NGI Consulting. Underground HVDC transmission could be built at a cost comparable to the 345-kilovolt AC lines currently used for the grid, although E&E News says cost is often cited as an obstacle to burying high-voltage power lines.
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Governments would need to allow longitudinal utility siting in rights of way and ensure that the new buried infrastructure would not interfere with the roadway maintenance and expansion, the study says. Reasons to support buried transmission lines range from accelerated deployment of renewable energy systems to prepare for the transition to EVs to expansion of rural broadband, and the study says the concept could avoid political backlash against overhead power lines across private property.