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China's Grid Operator Plans a Big Push in 5G and AI

China is planning a nationwide smart power grid that uses technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence, with the first phase to be completed within two years.

The plan was outlined in a white paper by the State Grid Corporation, one of China’s largest utility companies. It operates roughly 90% of the country’s electricity grids.

Named the “Ubiquitous Power Internet of Things,” the project aims to create an interconnected digital ecosystem linking the internet with the nation’s electricity supply. The design would help enable  the construction of smart cities, according to the white paper. China currently hosts roughly half of the world’s 1,000 pilot smart cities, which use 5G and AI technology to improve urban management.

“The Ubiquitous Power Internet of Things would apply information technology and advanced communication technologies such as mobile internet and artificial intelligence to realize the interconnection of all things and human-computer interaction in all aspects of the power grid, the document said.

The first phase is slated for completion in 2021, with the second phase to be finished in 2024. So far this year, State Grid has outlined more than 50 construction jobs and 25 demonstration projects to advance the plan.

Local news media quoted Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in Sydney, Australia, as saying that State Grid’s effort to modernize the electric grid with renewable energy and IoT technology is an expansion of the company’s existing strategy.

“This is a program of investment and development that’s been well underway for a decade. China State Grid has consistently been at the forefront of technology in doing so,” he was quoted as saying.

According to a 2016 report by the market intelligence firm Northeast Group, China is predicted to spend $77.6 billion on smart grid infrastructure over the next decade.

With the new two-way advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) smart meters that State Grid plans to install, customers who produce surplus energy through sources like solar panels can sell it back to the grid. The meters will help State Grid as it works to incorporate a larger share of electricity from renewable energy sources into the grid.

From January to August 2019, the amount of “clean” electricity generated and fed into the grid grew 15.9%, to 394.4 billion kilowatt-hours, local reports said.

State Grid recently put the “Ubiquitous Power Internet of Things” into practice at the newly opened Beijing Daxing International Airport. The company installed an “International Airport Smart Energy Service System” data platform which integrates power grid, airport and customer information. The system is capable of reacting to airport users’ demand for electricity.

State Grid also has used mobile Internet and AI in smart power grids in some parts of China including the northern industrial port city of Tianjin, which is also home to China’s first ultra-high voltage power grid, which uses wind, solar and geothermal energy.

The project also looks to improve energy efficiency by integrating and using different types of clean energy sources. In recent years, State Grid has advocated for a number of ultra-high voltage technology projects to boost the national energy infrastructure, partly in a bid to ease China’s reliance on fossil fuel sources .

“The ultra-high voltage grid is the key to building a global energy Internet,” Liu Zhenya, a former head of State Grid, was quoted as saying in Moscow in 2018.

The “global energy internet” is essentially a smart grid connected to an UHV grid that could potentially deliver clean energy worldwide.

DW Keefer's picture

Thank DW for the Post!

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Ben Schultz's picture
Ben Schultz on Nov 8, 2019 5:57 pm GMT

Very interesting stuff. I'm big on AI optimizing leaks in our efficiency when it comes to electricity storage and porduction. Can you see such a system being rolled out internationally in the near future?

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