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Wind for regional grid in China

Employees of State Grid Anhui Electric Power Company examine ultra-high voltage power transmission and transformation equipment in Huainan, East China’s Anhui Province in October.

China plans to connect its grid network with neighboring Asian countries, part of the country’s effort to increase the renewable energy supply and strengthen connectivity in the region, an executive with a State-owned power utility said Monday.

“China has already formed a unified grid network nationwide, and aims to connect its network with neighboring countries, especially with five Central Asian countries, Russia and Mongolia,” Shu Yinbiao, president of State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), told the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit held in Beijing.

With the connection of grid networks, the abundant solar and wind power resources in Central Asian countries – Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – could be transmitted to China through the ultra-high voltage (UHV) technology, and these countries can benefit from the rise in investment and economic gains, Shu said.

“The plan is a win-win situation, which connects the resource-rich but less-industrialized Central Asian countries with the world’s largest power consumer,” Han Xiaoping, chief information officer of China Energy Net Consulting Co, told the Global Times Monday.

SGCC started construction on three domestic large-scale UHV power projects on November 4, stretching from North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to East China’s Zhejiang Province. With an investment of 68.3 billion yuan ($11.1 billion), the projects signal that UHV projects have entered a massive construction period, the company said on its website.

The blueprint on grid network connection along the Silk Road economic belt is in accordance with China’s efforts to develop renewable energy and reduce its dependence on coal-fired power, experts said.

The country has a goal to make non-fossil fuels account for more than 15 percent of its total energy consumption by 2020.

The SGCC is also starting construction on a 10 million-kilowatt power project in Russia’s Far East region, which will provide electricity to North China, said Shu.

The grid network connection plan has indicated closer regional energy cooperation between China and other Asian countries, said Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.

“But it will still encounter challenges such as how to fund such large-scale projects, and cross-border negotiations on electricity prices will not be easy,” he told the Global Times Monday.

The Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) have provided China and neighboring countries with a rare opportunity on strengthening connectivity, Shu said.

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced Sunday the establishment of the Silk Road Fund, in which China will contribute $40 billion. The AIIB, founded by 21 Asian economies in late October, is also expected to start operation by the end of 2015.

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