January 20, 2022: UK researchers led by Birmingham University professor Xiao Ping Zhang said on January 19 they were working with the China Electric Power Research Institute (C-EPRI) to build an industrial-scale prototype of a high-voltage, direct current power transmission system for the bulk transmission of electrical power.
It could pave the way for a global electricity grid based on renewable energy, they said.
The researchers have published an economic analysis demonstrating that coupling HDVC transmission with renewable energy can deliver big cost savings if the world’s continents are joined together by a global energy supply grid.
“Their vision for the global grid involves connecting renewable energy supply from 14 regions in the world, which span all continents and all time zones,” the announcement said.
“Our research aims to increase the availability of renewable energy — by improving the efficiency and reliability of transmission to reduce costs for householders and business,” said Zhang.
“It’s important that we can use renewable energy to provide a vital safety mechanism for controlling frequency dips in national power grids. Our vision for a global energy grid could revolutionize the way we use renewables.”
The researchers worked out how much renewable energy supply would be available using historical meteorological data of wind and solar power between 2011 and 2017, as well as estimates of hydro-electric power generation from the International Energy Agency.
The researchers also calculated transmission costs over land and sea along with potential power losses and the operational costs of an HDVC global grid, and in the 2021 paper Economic Analysis of Power Grid Interconnections Among Europe, North-East Asia and North America with 100% Renewable Energy Generation, estimated that costs would drop by 31% in Europe and 10% for the other two regions.
C-EPRI belongs to the NARI Group Corporation, which is in turn a subsidiary of the State Grid Corporation of China.
The research team is based at the Birmingham Energy Institute.