China's plan to link east and west with new transmission moves forward

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China is spending at least $100 billion on a power grid of 20 ultra high-voltage transmission lines meant to link power generation in western areas to load centers in the south and east.

The State Grid Corp. of China plans to build about 12,000 miles of ultra high-voltage transmission lines by 2017. Reuters reported that some analysts have priced the transmission grid project as high as $250 billion.

The company has built more than 2,800 miles of line, with another 3,900 miles under construction. China's National Development and Reform Commission has approved the remaining 5,400 miles of transmission line, according to the company.

State Grid Corp. of China wants to connect about 210 GW of power generation capacity to load centers, bringing it to market in China's highly populated and industrialized south and east. This would require the transmission of 1.2 trillion kWh of electric power per year across a long distance.

The ultra high-voltage lines being used by the company are capable of delivering 4-5 times more electricity than traditional power transmission lines, as they are designed to limit line losses, according to the company.

The power lines would help China use less coal-fired power and thereby improve its air quality through the transmission of renewable energy sources from the west, according to the company. Much of China's considerable hydropower capacity is located in the eastern part of the country.

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