The Zhangbei DC Flexible Power Grid: A Breakthrough in Renewable Energy Transmission

The first step toward attaining a 100% sustainable energy powered future may just have been taken. The Zhangbei HVDC Power Grid is on its inaugural run powering the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics venues.

The power generated fully originates from wind, solar, and hydropower sources.
This grid is a step forward along with myriad other green energy efforts taken by the government of China.

Last December, China’s largest offshore wind farm with the largest single-unit capacity, the Qidong offshore wind-power project, was connected to the local power grid at total capacity.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has also announced that China’s major renewable power projects with an installed capacity of 100 Million kW have recently begun. They principally include wind and photovoltaic power bases installed in desert areas. The government is accelerating its progress in setting up solar and wind power projects in generally barren terrain such as sandy, rocky, or desert areas.

One of the main issues that stand in the way of the mass adoption of renewable power sources are the energy losses incurred during its transmission.

Traditional transmission infrastructure was built to cater sources with large power production capacity such as fossil fuel and nuclear power plants. Since power generated from such plants is large, energy losses during transmission do not affect the capability of meeting a population’s total energy needs.
The Zhangbei DC Flexible Power Grid is the first of its kind in the world, and was built as a solution to this issue, making green energy much more efficient for mass use.

Why the Zhangbei HVDC Grid is Special

The Zhangbei DC Flexible Power Grid was planned and built by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC).

High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) technology is a super efficient technology for transmitting large amounts of power over very long distances with minimal losses. Traditional AC transmission uses point-to-point links.

However, the Zhangbei Power Project is distinct with its power generated from several stations connected in a network, which helps maximize the use of green energy while ensuring a stable and consistent power supply.

Conventional AC transmission in general incurs 5-10% losses in power during transmission. This falls to around 2-3% or less with HVDC technology.

High Voltage Direct Current transmission helps transfer more energy per square meter over great distances with extreme efficiency than AC systems. Such an increased efficiency of power transmission means that HVDC systems have a far lower carbon footprint, and therefore also, far less operational costs.

Why it Works

AC transmission makes it impossible to transfer power between two different energy networks due to differences in frequency.

However, HVDC system’s precise power flow allows for various new energy sources to be connected seamlessly into power grids without causing instability in the frequencies – HVDC transmission can connect lines that operate on any frequency or voltage.

This feature of HVDC technology is essential for connecting lines from various renewable energy sources and integrating them into existing energy grids.

This gives way for a much smoother transition to renewable energy options. HVDC systems also give space to expand and add new networks, making it a more stable and future proof transmission system.
This, and the efficiency provided by the technology for power transmission over large distances makes integrating renewable energy sources to existing power grids much easier and low risk. At the same time, renewable energy will become a more viable power option for many populations in the future as HVDC transmission will make it more affordable. 

The Zhangbei DC Power Grid consists of 4 interconnected regional converter stations in Zhangbei, Kangbao, Fengning, and Beijing. This network will provide Beijing with 4500 MW of wind and solar energy. Pumped hydro storage will be used to balance any changes in wind power load, helping strengthen the grid in Beijing, making the supply more reliable and secure. 

The Beijing Winter Olympics 2022

The Winter Olympics currently underway (4th Feb – 20th Feb 2022) will be a perfect testing and demonstration opportunity for the capabilities of turning to renewable energy in the near future.
The games will be highly energy intensive with varied and intense refrigeration and ice making needs, indoor heating and hot water needs, and requiring uninterrupted power for multiple needs of thousands of athletes, staff, and other event personnel. 

The Zhangbei DC Flexible Power Grid was completed in time for the Winter Olympics with a commitment to bring a low carbon, green games experience, setting an example for future large scale events. The grid can deliver 14 Billion kWH of renewable energy generated electricity per year. The clean energy project by the SGCC will cut off 49 Million tons of yearly coal use. In the process, 12.8 Million tons of yearly carbon emissions will be wiped out.

The Future

The country is currently taking leaps in cutting away the national carbon footprint in more than one area. One such significant change is by introducing the Central Bank issued Digital Currency, the Digital Yuan, which will eventually cut off the use of cash within the next decade. This will wipe out the carbon footprint incurred from printing physical cash and also the high national costs that come with managing physical money.

Digital Yuan Payments are now Available on WeChat. Read More Here.

In light of building a greener future for China and paving the way for a more sustainable world, the Zhangbei HVDC Grid’s successful pilot run will inevitably enhance the positive impact made by other large scale renewable energy projects now underway across the country.

The project has been dubbed the “Golden Key” to solving the problems that currently stand in the way of nationwide consumption of renewable energy.

The potential of expansion provided by HVDC technology with existing power transmission infrastructure, and the incredible efficiency of transmission over very large distances makes the Zhangbei DC Flexible Power Grid a promising first step in speeding up renewable energy adoption across China.

Its success has the potential to set an important precedent towards a greener future worldwide – a breakthrough in efficient renewable energy transmission.