Energy

Asian “super grid” the first step towards a global, interconnected, renewable energy grid

Asian “super grid” the first s...
From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs: GEIDCO's vision of a global, interconnected, renewable power grid
From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs: GEIDCO's vision of a global, interconnected, renewable power grid
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From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs: GEIDCO's vision of a global, interconnected, renewable power grid
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From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs: GEIDCO's vision of a global, interconnected, renewable power grid

An Asia-based group of entrepreneurs has put forth a vision for a global, interconnected energy grid that connects energy users with renewable generation sources half a world away. Starting with an Asia wide super grid, GEIDCO is aiming for a connected world by 2050.

Clean, renewable energy will soon be cheaper than traditional polluting sources - but there's still a big problem. It tends to get generated in inconvenient places, at inconvenient times that don't necessarily match up with where it's needed.

Part of this problem could be solved with grid-level battery storage – if anyone can come up with a big enough, cheap enough, workable solution for that. But an international group of entrepreneurs is working on an extremely ambitious scheme to link the entire globe together into an interconnected power grid that would let renewable energy be generated and used at any time, from anywhere.

GEIDCO - the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Co-operation Organization is a China-based group that now has agreements with energy companies in China, South Korea, Russia and Japan, as well as utilities, equipment manufacturers and universities from 14 countries.

It's simple enough; whenever there's a big power load somewhere, there's somewhere else in the world where that demand matches up with a generation spike. When it's noon in the Gobi desert, and solar generation is at its peak, it's dinner time in the UK and everyone's boiling kettles.

The first step for GEIDCO is to build a connected Asia Super Grid that could bring the theoretically huge renewable energy generation capabilities of North China's Gobi desert as far east as Japan.

The entire idea is contingent on ultra high voltage power transmission lines, thousands of miles operating at more than 1,000 kilovolts AC/800 kilovolts DC. High voltages reduce losses over long distances, and both Russia and Japan already have hundreds (in Russia's case thousands) of miles of ultra high voltage lines up and running. These pale in comparison to China's infrastructure; since 2009 China has built nearly 10,000 miles of UHV power lines, with about the same again to come online in the next two years.

The larger GEIDCO's interconnected web of renewable energy becomes, the more stable the supply is, because it's less dependent on individual sources, so moving toward a global energy network that shares power from Greenland to South Africa, Australia to Switzerland is the ultimate goal.

Of course, there's a lot of obstacles in the way – from geopolitics, to who's in control of the grid, to grid stability in an interconnected world, to the enormous infrastructure costs involved. But having already begun to face extreme levels of pollution due to its massive 1.35-billion population, China is pushing hard on renewable energy and making huge investments.

And of course, with Brexit and the Trump election in 2016, it seems the political climate may be moving away from globalism and toward national independence, which could put grid-level battery storage higher on the menu than projects like this in some places.

Still, GEIDCO's medium term target is to put intra-continental interconnected grids in place in each continent by 2030 and to have the continents linked up by 2050, all while bringing global clean energy generation capacity up to some 90 percent of the global total energy demand.

That's a heck of a vision, but one that has the potential to make a massive positive impact on the world.

Source: GEIDCO

14 comments
watersworm
A dream world with thousands of miles of (very ?) hgh voltage power transmission lines ??? Funny when you think that renewables (think wind and solar) would have been the acme of decentralized enery ! Not to speak of "geopolitical issues", just a "peccadille" ones.
Jimjam
Wow, this plan by GEIDCO is a triumph of hype over reality. You'd need almost free superconducting transmission lines for this to be practical. And even then it would probably just be cheaper to build standard nuclear around the world, let alone melt down proof 4th gen molten salt reactors.
Jeff J Carlson
just more government subsidy seeking carnival barking con men ... 2 words, transmission losses ...
Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
I like it. The feasibility of such a project depends greatly on the participants of each individual country, but we already live in such a globalized world where countries are highly interconnected with each other. Why not go further?
Lbrewer42
This author would do well as a politician. The fifth line is,"Clean, renewable energy will soon be cheaper than traditional polluting sources... ." And the rest of the article explains why the word "soon" is nowhere near applicable to the subject. All this in addition to the lies that renewable sources are actually practical to begin with. Such as a major point always ignored by the missionaries and preachers of solar power is that by the time you pay off the large initial cost of the system, you have to replace its components. Then there was the "secret" where all the huge windmills put up under obama's admin have to be backed up with diesel generators (Oh no - fossil fuels!) b/c they cannot keep functioning for continual production of power in many areas, the windmills require frequent changes of the (very expensive) lubricating oil they used to keep from catching fire, and many windmills were deployed in areas where they cannot be continually driven by the wind. A very common sight in Pennsylvania is only one or two of a group of five of these giant wastes of taxpayer money not spinning. All so the "politically correct" can be happy wasting our money.
StWils
China is already building a new highway and rail system to revive and modernize the ancient China Silk Road. This modernized path would obviously be the right path for transmission lines from China to the whole of central Asia and India. The clear geopolitical implication will be to unify the eastern, central, and southern parts of the Eur-Asia landmass under the control of China. This literally will define the Chinese view of Asia as their sphere of influence. While the early impetus will just be good & attractive business opportunities the clear longer term intent is to establish political & economic control as widely as possible. The "member" nations of the consortium may not like that longer term prospect. For 28 out of the last 30 centuries the largest strongest military, economic, and cultural power has been China. They want that reputation back. Only the last two hundred years and the industrial revolution changed that, and China wants to reverse that. The problem here is that business owners with greedy, short term small world views only think of their own small outcomes. This is one of the severe threats made possible by last Tuesday's disaster. Anyone care to imagine that Trump's world view covers enough ground here?
BobMunck
The term "super grid" (or the word "supergrid") has several meanings, one of which is a buried pipeline carrying liquid hydrogen which cools a transmission line to superconducting. It delivers energy both as hydrogen and as electricity, resulting in extremely efficient transmission. I had hopes from the title of the article that that was what was planned, but apparently not. The losses of such a pipeline are much lower than that of "ultra high voltage power transmission lines," mostly because the electricity is conducted through a superconductor, and the hydrogen is a very good storage medium and useful for powering vehicles. Also, because the pipeline is underground, it's much less a blight on the landscape than ugly transmission towers.
Rustin Lee Haase
This top down approach to power distribution seems bass-ackwards. It makes sense to produce energy and distribute it large distances with ultra-high voltage networks, but such networks should be owned and operated locally with mutually agreed on standards and protocols. Final authority for power generation is already local. Authority for distributing power should also be local, forcing all links to be cooperative and free market. Without that local control, world citizens may as well give up all their liberty to the GEIDCO who could quickly become more powerful than any local or even regional government. The GEIDCO network could also become a single point of failure on a global scale which should cause shudders down the back of any risk analyst. (What if they use the same software at all nodes in the network and those nodes have a hardware destroying vulnerability?) A huge global power distribution grid may be a great idea, but let it grow organically and cooperatively with the stability of distributed and diverse management and operation.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
PV is very inefficient. Its main value is that it can double as a roof. The value of the grid for PV is that the grid provides free energy storage. These two things make PV economical in many cases. If, at some point, there are nuclear fusion plants, these will require much larger distribution systems.
GWA111
Map is wrong anyway, Australia has hydropower too.