Siemens reports that it has brought into operation a high-voltage direct-current transmission line connecting the highly industrial Pearl River delta (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong) with hydropower sources 1,500 kilometers to the west. With a transmission capacity of 5,000 MW, the HVDC line in effect obviates the need for up to 5 GW of fossil generation in the Pearl River delta, saving enormously on air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Siemens, power is being carried over the line at a record-setting 800 kilovolts, with losses of just 2 percent per 1000 kilometers and an additional 1.5 percent at the transmitting and receiving ends. The line is the second such electricity superhighway Siemens has installed in China to operate at 800 kV. Siemens developed a new "super transformer" for the lines, which it sees as "practically a blueprint for the DII (Desertec Industrial Initiative) desert power project."
Desertec could be a $500 billion project that would involve installing up to 470 GW of generating capacity in the Sahara, consisting of concentrating solar plants, and transporting most of that power via HVDC lines to Europe. It may sound far-fetched, but if Europe it going to achieve it highly ambitious 2050 goals for renewable electricity generation and carbon emissions cuts, it may be the only way to go.