The windswept steppes and arid desert of Inner Mongolia seem unlikely places to address China’s energy challenges. But these remote areas generate wind, solar and thermal energy that can be integrated into eastern China’s grid to meet the growing demand for electricity.
While these resources have been largely untapped due to the lack of transmission links to load centers that are thousands of kilometers away, this is set to change.
These vast grasslands that have been home to nomadic people for centuries are the scenic backdrop for many large power transmission projects and now host the most powerful ultrahigh-voltage direct-current (UHVDC) transmission link in the world.
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The 1628km Ximeng-Taizhou UHVDC transmission link, developed by the State Grid Corporation of China, is now operational. It can transmit up to 10GW of electricity and has set a new world record in power capacity transmitted at 800 kilovolt direct current (kV DC) voltage level.
ABB has delivered 509 megavolt ampere (MVA) converter transformers for the project, plus 800 kilovolt (kV)/6,250 ampere DC breakers and wall bushings, setting another world record in current capacity of bushings and DC breakers.
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The converter transformers from ABB are of 25 per cent higher capacity than previous designs at 800 kilovolts DC and yet compact in design, serving the needs of about 20 million people. This design allowed the large and heavy tanks, which weigh almost 350-tonnes, to be transferred safely and more cost-efficiently from thousands of kilometres away by ship and rail, to the grid site.
China has major load centers in its eastern regions, while its energy resources are mainly in the west and northwest. The expansive geography and increased demand for electricity over the last decade have prompted the country to increase its UHV transmission capacity, enabling delivery of power from newer, more-efficient thermal power generation plants near energy reserves and renewable energies in remote areas, while lowering pollution near cities.