The first few photos above were taken during ultra-high voltage (UHV) transmission experiments carried out at minus 20 degrees Celsius by the State Grid Electric Power Research Institute last Sunday. What is UHV power and why is China doing so much cool-looking science with it? Glad you asked.
UHV is a technology that allows for double the amount of voltage transmission of regular power lines with way less power loss. Nobody has really bothered with it since the USSR dropped research on it like 40 years ago, but new technology and China’s massive demand for power have brought it back to the forefront.
The current push for UHV in China comes in reaction to that troublesome dilemma where all the country’s power sources (Three Gorges Dam, coal all over the north and west, etc.) are super far away from its power-guzzling eastern and southern regions.
We first heard about China’s UHV plans two years ago, when they were already building lines from Anhui and Mongolia to Shanghai. Last August, they announced plans for an expanded network by 2015. (The WSJ wrote an excellent overview of the technology and China’s plans surrounding it.)
And now, last week they announced that 500 billion yuan will be invested over the next five-year plan to create six new lines (three north-to-south and three east-to-west) totaling 40,000km of UHV lines.
China currently leads the world in UHV research. They plan to eventually market the technology commercially, probably to buyers like Brazil and India who are already eying its developments with interest.
Photos via a Chinese government website, h/t MIC gadget