Siemens Completes Major Chinese Transmission Line

Project could be a virtual dress rehearsal for proposed Saharan megaproject

1 min read
Siemens Completes Major Chinese Transmission Line

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.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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