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China's state grid company zaps power transmission records

18/01/2019
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The State Grid Corporation of China has zapped current power transmission records with its new 1.1-million-volt direct current (DC) line which pushes power from Xinjiang to eastern megacities over 3000 kilometres away.

In doing so, the new ultra-high voltage DC (UHVDC) line breaks world records for voltage, power and distance.
One of the giant transformers used on the UHVDC line.
(One of the giant transformers used on the UHVDC line. Image via TBEA).

According to China’s state grid company, the line can transmit up to 12 gigawatts, which is enough to power 50 million Chinese households, an increase of 50 percent over the company’s current 800-kilovolt UHVDC lines.

The jump from up from 800-kv to the new 1100-kv line was necessitated by the need to transmit power to eastern China over a distance of 3,293 kilometres (which extends the power transmission distance record by over 900kms). Transmitting power over such a large distance using 800-kv lines would have incurred unacceptable losses, thus the State Grid Corporation of China set about ‘super-sizing’ the line.

Ensuring that transmission and distribution infrastructure was able to adequately handle the 1100-kv load meant supersizing components such as power lines and transmission towers to manage the system’s unprecedented electromagnetic fields.
Transformer in transit for China's new UHVDC line
(Transformer in transit. Image via TBEA).

Aside from efficiently providing power to far-flung megacities, UHVDC technology is also viewed by the Chinese government as a means of greening the country’s polluting power networks. At present, China is exceptionally wasteful of the renewable power that it generates. According to Chinese government statistics, more than one-fifth of Xinjiang’s solar generating potential and one-quarter of its wind power was wasted in 2017 due to curtailment. It’s hoped that the use of UHVDC technology will reduce this curtailment and enable the renewable power to be transmitted to other parts of the country and used.

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