BEIJING, July 7 China has started operating
another multibillion-dollar ultra-high voltage (UHV) power line,
connecting its second-largest hydropower plant in the landlocked
west to a province on the east coast, the official China Energy
News reported on Monday.
The world's No. 2 economy has struggled to expand its grid
to keep up with growing power demand, with most of its new
energy supplies in the far west, while demand is in the east and
State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), the world's biggest
utility and a pioneer of UHV technology, plans to spend 620
billion yuan ($100 billion) by 2017 on 20 UHV lines in China, a
company executive said last August.
The project has been controversial with critics arguing SGCC
is betting too much on costly and untested technology that could
expose the system to blackouts. The firm has said that UHV lines
are reliable and designed to prevent outages.
The latest UHV line spans five provinces -- Sichuan,
Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi and Zhejiang -- and cost about 19.7
billion yuan ($3.2 billion).
It will be part of a UHV complex that will ship about 40
billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year from the
hydropower-rich southwestern regions to eastern consuming hubs,
China Energy News said.
That would be equivalent to conserving 12.28 million tonnes
of standard coal and reducing carbon dioxide emissions of 34
million tonnes every year.
The third such project run by SGCC, a 1,653-kilometre line
that starts in the southwestern province of Sichuan and ends in
Zhejiang, started operating last week, the paper said.
That coincided with the start of full operations at the
Xiluodu hydropower station, the country's second largest in
terms of capacity.
The UHV lines would allow China to build power plants near
coal mines or gas fields before sending electricity rather than
coal across country. This would free up rail capacity and could
reduce the need for coal and gas imports.
(Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Joseph Radford)