More on the Northeast Asian Supergrid

As Rockfire reported on Monday 19 September, Japan, South Korea and China, with Russia, are developing an interconnected, ultra-high velocity (UHV) regional grid to help guarantee their power supply by permitting the cross border transfer of low cost electricity from renewable sources.

China Wind Energy

The region’s energy infrastructure was back in the news yesterday as the BBC’s environment analyst interviewed the International Energy Agency (IEA) following reports that China has been building wind turbines at the rate of two per hour. The IEA conceded that this figure was correct but cautioned that it concealed another reality: that 15% of China’s wind capacity is switched off at any given time. In the province of Gansu, that percentage is closer to 40.[1]

What’s going on? An IEA spokesman explained that China has indeed been strengthening its wind capacity but that coal-fired installations have priority access to the grid.

China’s position is clearly unsustainable. It will need strong policy decisions, including the construction of many more grid lines

IEA spokesman

China’s build-up of its capacity in wind – and now solar – is truly without parallel. It is no surprise that the Chinese grid’s capability to integrate this variable renewable energy has not progressed at the same rate, but to change this situation China needs to rapidly progress with electricity market reform.

Steve Sawyer of Global Wind Energy Council goes further

The Northeast Asian Supergrid makes even more sense in the light of all the excess wind capacity that is currently wasted.
Coinciding with the BBC interview, the World Energy Council yesterday issued a release that confirmed that the last decade has been a boom time for renewables with wind and solar, in particular, growing by 23% and 50% respectively.[2]

Secretary General Christoph Frei underlined the role that interconnection can be expected to play in the following statement:

The success of both the development of intermittent renewables and their efficient integration in electricity systems fundamentally depends on the right market design and regulatory framework and solid regional planning to avoid bottlenecks

Christoph Frei Secretary General of The World Energy Council

[1] BBC. China embarked on wind power frenzy, says IEA. 20 September 2016.

[2] World Energy Council. Variable Renewables Integration in Electricity Systems 2016 – How to get it right. 20 September 2016.