Grid advance improves quality of growth

Updated 2017-10-18 10:03:55 Global Times

UHV helps China cut coal use in coastal areas

China has become a world leader in using domestic ultra-high voltage (UHV) grid technology during the past five years, the State Grid Corp of China (SGCC) said on Tuesday, and experts said that has helped the country in meeting its key objectives.

SGCC, which ranked No.2 on the Fortune Global 500 list in 2016, said in a statement e-mailed to the Global Times that China's UHV grid has broken a string of world records in terms of the system's voltage level, power transmission distance and transmission capacity in the past five years.

During the period, UHV grid technology went from the trial phase to comprehensive construction, capacity continued to expand and the UHV network's ability to dispatch resources over thousands of kilometers greatly increased.

SGCC is the world's largest public utility providing electricity service to more than 1.1 billion people in China, and it manages about billion in overseas assets.

Lin Boqiang, a professor with the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that there has been massive development in UHV grids in China.

"Despite some controversy, the mass adoption [of this technology] did indeed solve some of the country's urgent issues. For instance, the system effectively underpinned the growth of new-energy generation bases in western China, where power sources are abundant but demand is scarce," Lin said. "The UHV grid especially supported the growth of wind power bases there."

During the period from 2012 to 2016, SGCC invested 370 billion yuan (.9 billion) into 18 UHV projects across China and grew the country's capacity to transmit power over these regions and provinces by 130 million kilowatts from less than 20 million kilowatts in 2012, supporting the nation's strategy to stabilize growth and restructure its economic growth pattern.

So far 12 projects, all part of the country's overall plan to combat severe air pollution, have been put into operation. The length of UHV power lines has increased to 30,000 kilometers from about 4,600 kilometers in 2012 and these lines have cumulatively transmitted 660 billion kilowatt hours of power, according to the SGCC statement.

That much electricity equals a reduction of 300 million tons of coal that would have been burned in the coastal regions, as well as a reduction of carbon dioxide by 560 million tons and a decrease of more than 400 million tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

"Compared with the Chinese domestic bullet train, which is known as the calling card of China's high-tech exports, UHV technology is not so well known among ordinary people, as it is not something we encounter in everyday life," Lin said.

"However, this technology [UHV] is something that only China can offer. This is different from the bullet train, which faces competition from several other countries."

The SGCC said the promotion of UHV technology has also led to an upgrading of China's electricity equipment sector, established China's lead in the standards of the new technology, and carved out a presence overseas in countries such as Brazil, where two projects will transmit power for the Belo Monte dam, one of the world's largest hydroelectric facilities. "Because of its nature, UHV technology is only economically efficient when there exists the need to transform huge volumes of power over great distances. Without these two prerequisites, the technology faces the issue of remaining economic," Lin said.

"After an intense period of construction, whether we should continue to build massive UHV grids has become an issue to consider," Lin said.

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