How Far Can Electricity Be Transported?

The cities of Los Angeles, Anaheim, Riverside, Pasadena, Burbank and Glendale are buying electricity as far as 600 miles away. The Intermountain Power Agency is talking to the city of Los Angeles and other customers about converting much of the coal-fired Intermountain Power Plant to run on cleaner but more expensive natural gas by 2025.  More info

Electricity can be transported over long distances through power transmission and distribution systems. The maximum distance that electricity can be efficiently transmitted depends on several factors:

Voltage Level: Higher voltage levels enable electricity to be transmitted over longer distances with reduced losses. High-voltage transmission lines, such as extra-high voltage (EHV) and ultra-high voltage (UHV) lines, are used for long-distance transmission.

Transmission Technology: Advancements in transmission technology, such as High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) systems, allow for efficient long-distance transmission. HVDC can transmit electricity over very long distances with minimal losses compared to traditional alternating current (AC) transmission.

Line Losses: Electricity transmission over long distances incurs losses due to resistance in the transmission lines. These losses can be minimized by using higher voltages and efficient conductors, but they still increase with distance.

Infrastructure and Maintenance: Building and maintaining transmission infrastructure becomes more challenging and costly as the distance increases. Factors such as terrain, environmental conditions, and access to resources also influence the feasibility of long-distance transmission.

While it is technically feasible to transmit electricity over very long distances, practical considerations, including cost-effectiveness and infrastructure requirements, play a significant role in determining the extent of electricity transmission. Generally, power transmission over distances of hundreds or thousands of kilometers is common in many countries, facilitating the interconnection of regional power grids and the transfer of electricity from remote power generation sources to demand centers.