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Work begins on State Grid Corp of China’s third ultra high voltage power line

Work begins on State Grid Corp of China’s third ultra high voltage power line

Work has started on China’s third ultra-high voltage (UHV) power line project, according to an announcement by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC). The new line will connect Zhejiang Province and Fujian Province, and in the future will form a major part of what will become the Eastern China UHV electric transmission line.

UHV power lines are designed to deliver large quantities of power over long distances with greater efficiency. To qualify as ultra-high voltage, a line must have a voltage of 1,000 kV or higher in alternating current (AC) or 800 kV in direct current (DC).

China is in the process of constructing a network of ultra-high voltage electricity transmission lines that will help transfer electricity from energy rich areas of the country to coastal provinces with greater demand for power but fewer resources.

However, due to opposition to the expensive plan – officials originally planned to invest $250 billion over the five years from 2011 to 2015 – progress has been slower than State Grid Corp of China (SGCC), the country’s major power grid operator and one of the world’s largest companies, had hoped.

According to remarks made by Liu Zhenya, president of SGCC, at the company’s annual work meeting in January this year, the timetable for the completion of a grid of three east-west and three north-south UHV lines has been pushed back from 2015, as laid out in the country’s 12th 5-year plan, to 2017.

News of work beginning on this new UHV line is being interpreted as a sign that the pace of development of the grid has once again picked up after being put on hold for a year.

An official from the SGCC said that work on the Zhejiang North-Fuzhou UHV AC project, which will require an investment of 18 billion yuan, began yesterday and is expected to be completed by March 2015.

This will be the third UHV that transmits alternating current, after the 640 kilometer Jindongnan-Nanyang-Jingmen UHV AC Pilot Project which transfers electricity from Shanxi to Hubei went into operation in January, 2009 and the Huainan-North Zhejiang-Shanghai UHV AC Project, which will connect Shanghai to Anhui Province, and is expected to be completed later this year.

There are already two other UHV lines in operation that transmit DC from hydropower stations in southwest China to the eastern coastal provinces, with a third UHV DC line also under construction.

According to Tian Lu, the deputy director of Construction Office of State Grid, this new project will involve the construction of three new substations – two in northern Zhejiang and one in Fujian – and the expansion of an existing substation in Zhejiang.

Tian said that the project will improve eastern China’s capacity for receiving power from other regions and it will also help Zhejiang and Fujian transmit any excess electricty to other areas.

However, experts who oppose the construction of a UHV network do not agree.

An article in China Business News, includes a quote from one unnamed expert noting that Zhejiang and Fujian both lack energy resources and actually face power shortages. The expert says that constructing an electric transmission line between the two provinces could lead to the embarrasing situation of having a high-voltage power line, but no power to transmit.

Opponents of the network also noted that connecting regional power grids by UHV transmission line could increase the risk of large-scale national blackouts, similar to the one that left much of India without power in 2012.

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