China pours money into vision of global grid

Source: By Kynge/Hornby, Financial Times • Posted: Monday, June 11, 2018

China wants to create a global electricity grid. Its ultra high-voltage cables (UHV) might help the nation do it.

Chinese companies aren’t the only ones in possession of UHVs — some in Europe have them, too — but they’re the first to seek deployment on a massive scale.

Former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has called China’s transmission lines “the best … in terms of the highest voltage and lowest loss.”

“They can transmit electricity over 2,000 kilometers and lose only 7 percent of the energy. If we [the United States] transmitted over 200 km, we would lose more than that,” he has said.

Chinese firms are planning 83 projects worth $102 billion in several continents. Those projects include building or acquiring transmission. That number is nearly quadruple if considering all power-related deals and including investments and loans.

Liu Zhenya, former president of utility State Grid Corp. and current head of the China Electricity Council, likens the official plan for the grid to the internet, saying it would be global but not exclusively controlled.

The first stage of the project, running through 2019, involves investment in other countries’ grid assets, while the second would seek to connect those assets’ generation capacity.

“From 2020 to 2030, the task will be to promote intracontinental interconnection, with the interconnection of Asian, European and African grids being basically realized,” said Liu recently in London.