Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

When one thinks about Beijing’s “go out” strategy, massive transport infrastructure projects that will help China tap far-flung export markets come to mind. But for China State Grid Corporation, the vision of interconnectivity is about more than just roads and bridges. It is about electricity.

Specifically, State Grid aims to realize its vision of a global power grid by 2050, as Der Spiegel writes on Thursday. The plan hopes to achieve a foundation of regional networking by 2020 and significantly expand renewable energy production capacity by 2030.

In places like Laos, efforts to create regional grids is already underway, according to The Financial Times. It is all being made possible by ultra high-voltage technology which allows transport of power across long distances at a commercially viable price.

“[UHV] is dubbed the ‘intercontinental ballistic missile’ of the power industry by Liu Zhenya, its biggest backer and for a decade the president of State Grid, China’s powerful transmission utility…

“Now Mr Liu is promoting UHV internationally through his Global Energy Interconnection initiative. Designated a ‘national strategy’ and championed by Xi Jinping, China’s president, the initiative feeds into one of China’s most ambitious international plans — to create the world’s first global electricity grid.”

Der Spiegel noted how China’s UHV innovations are years ahead of Germany’s adoption of such solutions. Former US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, quoted in the FT article, went so far as to say that the breakthroughs in this area, not in quantum computing, were China’s real “Sputnik moment.”