China is half way through a US$100 billion ultra-high voltage (UHV) grid investment, according to an official from the country’s grid operator.
The UHV network will open remote renewable installations to the country’s energy thirsty east coast by moving power thousands of kilometres with minimal losses.
There had been resistance from the influential National Development and Reform Council (NDRC) to the plans but Zhang Zhengling, deputy director of development and planning at the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) told Reuters that more than half the scheme is either approved or already under construction.
He said UHV would allow China to take advantage of renewable energy sources in western regions such as Yunnan, Inner Mongolia and Tibet. China’s solar resources are concentrated in the north and north west of the country.
"Without UHV, renewables can't find a market. The local population cannot use that much power and it must be delivered through grids, and it is so far away that we can only use UHV."
According to a Deutsche Bank research note last year, China was unable to connect all of its installed wind capacity to the grid. Investment in grid infrastructure is considered crucial if the country is to fully exploit its renewable energy potential.
Earlier this week the Inner Mongolian Power Group (IMPG) announced a 169% increase in solar power generation.
The DESERTEC Foundation and the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF) banked by Japanese giant SoftBank, proposed connecting renewable power from Mongolia to Japan as well as to the east and south of China.