On November 2, the 2020 Global Energy Interconnection (Asia) Conference was successfully convened in Beijing. With the theme of “Green, Low-Carbon, and Sustainable Development”, the conference aims to deepen global and Asian energy and power cooperation, accelerate energy transition, promote to implement China’s initiative of Global Energy Interconnection (GEI), and facilitate the Belt and Road Initiative and the community with a shared future for mankind.
The conference was jointly held by the China-initiated Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO) as well as the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific of United Nations (UNESCAP) and Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia of United Nations (UNESCWA). Liu Zhenya, Chairman of GEIDCO and China Electricity Council (CEC), addressed the conference and delivered a keynote speech. Remarks were also given by H.E. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs of United Nations, Mr. Gao Gao, Deputy Secretary General of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Dr. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of UNESCAP, Dr. Rola A.A.H. Dashti, Executive Secretary of UNESCWA, Mr. Li Ye, Executive Director General for Regulation of National Energy Administration, Mr. Vladimir Norov, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), and Prof. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The event has attracted more than 1,000 participants, including senior officials from international organizations such as the UN, WMO, International Hydropower Association (IHA), and International Council on Large Electric Systems (CIGRE), government officials and representatives from more than 40 countries, including China, Russia, the UAE, Pakistan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, as well as well-known experts and scholars from enterprises, universities, research institutes and civil societies. Through on-site and online participation, they had in-depth discussion on the themes of clean development and Asian transformation, energy interconnection and open cooperation, energy transition and carbon neutrality, and investment and financing for renewable energy.
The 4-day conference consists of plenary meeting, thematic forums, technical forums, side events, and thematic exhibitions. At the plenary meeting held on the afternoon of November 2, GEIDCO released the report series on the research and outlook of Asian and its regional energy interconnections, and report series on global and continental renewable energy development and investment, as well as the monograph of Energy, Transportation and Information Networks Integration (ETI Integration). During the meeting, GEIDCO signed four cooperation agreements with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Sustainable Energy for ALL (SEforALL), the Union of the Electricity Industry – Eurelectric, Mongolia’s Erdenes Mongol LLC. The agreements aim at conducting pragmatic cooperation on tackling environmental pollution, promoting renewable energy development and transnational and interregional power interconnection, and ensuring sustainable energy for all.
GEI fundamentally solves the dilemma between development and emissions reduction and provides an important platform for energy transition and economic recovery
In September 2015, President Xi Jinping proposed the GEI initiative at the UN Sustainable Development Summit, aiming to meet the global power demand with clean and green alternatives. This September, at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, President Xi announced China’s goals in achieving a peak in carbon emissions and carbon neutrality, which was highly commended and positively responded by the international community, showcasing China’s responsibilities as a major global player. At present, GEI has been incorporated into working frameworks such as the UN 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, global environmental governance, and the Belt and Road Initiative. This initiative has become a global action, with the top-level design completed covering the energy interconnections of the globe, each continent, and key regions.
Liu Zhenya pointed out that by expediting clean replacement and electricity replacement, GEI will significantly improve the electrification level of the whole society and help restore fossil energy to industrial raw materials. It also facilitates the pattern of clean energy-dominated energy production and electricity-centered energy consumption, and helps to decouple energy development from carbon and economic growth from carbon emissions. GEI provides fundamental solutions to address the long-term contradiction between development and emission reduction faced by countries worldwide.
According to Liu Zhenya, by leveraging the differences in resource distribution, time zones, seasons and electricity prices, GEI can advance the intensive development and the efficient large-scale allocation of global clean energy. GEI integrates clean generation, electricity replacement, energy efficiency improvement, and other emissions reduction methods to optimize the cost and emissions reduction approaches, thereby meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement in a faster, more economical and optimized manner. It also boosts the development of emerging industries, such as new energy, new materials, and high-tech manufacturing, expedites the process of making breakthroughs in cutting-edge technologies, such as UHV, clean generation, energy storage, EV, and AI, and thus provides a new engine for world economic growth.
“GEIDCO calculated the energy costs in over 200 prospect hydro, wind and solar power bases worldwide, and found that by 2035, they will be 4, 2.5 and 1.8 US cents per kWh on average respectively, which generates an evident economic advantage,” Liu Zhenya said.
Against the great power demand and heavy emissions reduction tasks, Asian Energy Interconnection will generate significant benefits
This conference focuses on the energy and power development as well as the energy interconnection in Asia. As put forward in the conference, Asia is one of the most vigorous regions with the greatest potential in the world, and Asian Energy Interconnection is an important component of GEI and pathway for Asia’s energy transition.
How to plan and advance Asian Energy Interconnection? GEIDCO has proposed its solution: to accelerate the development of cost-efficient clean energy production bases at locations with rich resources in West and Central Asia, Mongolia, Russia, North and West China, etc., deliver energy to consumption regions such as South and Southeast Asia, East China, ROK, Japan, etc., and form an energy development pattern featuring “power delivery from west to east and north to south, and complementary energy supply from multiple sources”. Further, it will open power routes connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and Oceania and facilitate to achieve intercontinental power mutual support.
The GEIDCO-released report series on the research and outlook of Asian and its regional energy interconnections analyzes the development trend of energy and power in Asia and specifically in East, South, Central, West, Southeast, and Northeast Asia in 2035 and 2050. The research results provide plans for developing renewable energy bases and grid interconnection.
According to the report, Asia is confronted with heavy tasks of carbon emissions reduction for its great demand of electricity, with fossil fuel taking up a high proportion in energy consumption. Statistics show that hydro, solar, and wind energy resources account for 47%, 28%, and 30% of the world, respectively, which are inversely distributed with population and economy. Therefore, priorities should be given to developing renewable energy bases rich in resources and outstanding in economic benefits and transmitting electricity to load centers while satisfying local needs. This will be enabled by hydro, wind, and solar energy coordination, multi-energy mutual support, and co-development model of “electricity, mining, metallurgy, manufacturing and trade”, which will maximize the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of energy utilization. The report predicts that by developing Asian Energy Interconnection, renewable energy power generation will become Asia’s dominant power source by 2035. By 2050, the per capita cost of electricity in Asia will drop by more than 40%, and a total of 180 million jobs will be created.
As the overall plan is released for large-scale development and utilization of global renewable energy, it becomes necessary to speed up the process in advancing clean replacement
At this conference, report series on global and continental renewable energy development and investment prepared by GEIDCO was released for the first time. The report series studies the situations and development priorities of hydro, wind, and solar energy in the world as a whole and specifically in the six continents. It answers questions such as “Where is renewable energy? What is the volume of potential renewable energy? How is the cost-effectiveness? Who uses renewable energy? What are the investment conditions?” The research results will speed up clean replacement and green and low-carbon transformation on the energy production side.
For this research, GEIDCO has established a world-covering database for renewable energy resource assessment with 18 items in 3 categories. It assesses the hydro, wind, and solar energy from three dimensions, namely, theoretical reserves, technical exploitation amount, and economical exploitation amount. After estimating the development costs, it proposes 35 hydro, 94 wind, and 90 photovoltaic power base sites feasible in cost-effectiveness, totaling an installed capacity exceeding 2TW, and puts forward transmission direction and transmission plans. Based on the development conditions in the world and in different continents, the report suggests investment recommendations and advocates the establishment of transnational and interregional energy cooperation mechanisms. It helps to build a community of interests characterized by “resources-technology-market” and “government-enterprise-financial institution” to share the returns and risks of project investment.
In order to encourage the participation of all parties in GEI research, investment, and construction, GEIDCO has developed an online GEI development and cooperation platform, which made its debut at this conference and will be officially launched early next year. The platform features project promotion, exchanges and cooperation, conferences and exhibitions, and resource sharing and focuses on interconnection, clean development, and low-carbon and efficient energy projects. It aims to open up cooperation channels between government and enterprises, investment and projects, as well as construction and consulting and provide one-stop services from project information announcement, customized consulting to investment and financing recommendation. In the first phase, the platform will select and put 150 projects in 50 countries and regions online and share more than 30 research results, 1.5 million pieces of information, and more than 900 types of data.
During the plenary meeting held on November 2, ETI integration was put forward. As another research fruit first announced by GEIDCO, it is an innovative theory on the integrated development of energy, transportation, and information networks, which according to the report, resemble the blood, limb, and nervous systems of a human. Despite their importance as essential network infrastructures, excessive resource use, low returns on investment, and inefficiency arise due to the long-term fragmented development. ETI integration features integrated, shared, and coordinated development of energy, transportation, and information networks transformed from the originally fragmented model. The three networks interact deeply in paradigms and functions and form a new type of comprehensive infrastructure system characterized by extensive interconnection, intelligence, efficiency, as well as clean, low-carbon, open, and shared development. Such actions help to achieve efficient coordination and value multiplication of energy flow, human/logistics flow, and information flow.
The report proposes that ETI integration represents a development model stronger in resource allocation, industrial promotion, and value creation. As an advanced form of infrastructure development, it achieves network integration and elevates the efficiency of economic development through five-layer integration (energy, infrastructure, data, operation, and sector integration). The report outlines more than ten application scenarios for ETI integration, including pipeline corridors integrating transportation, power, and communications; multi-station integration of substations, charging stations, and big data centers; as well as Internet of vehicles, photovoltaic highways, smart logistics, smart lighting, smart street lights, shared towers, etc.
Three technical forums were held on the morning of November 2. Experts including Mr. Guo Jianbo, Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering, delivered speeches on topics such as the challenges of developing power system with high proportion of renewable energy, outlook of key GEI technologies, and GEI for resolving climate and environmental crisis. They also answered questions from the audience.
The report series on the development and outlook of key GEI technologies were released for the first time at the technology forum. Since this year, based on the goals of energy transition and GEI development plans, GEIDCO has carried out joint research on critical technologies with the China Electric Power Research Institute, Tsinghua University, Friends of Sustainable Grids, Italy’s Prysmian Group, as well as well-known enterprises, universities, and scientific research institutions from home and abroad. The research team has completed the development and outlook reports on four key technologies, namely, UHV power transmission, renewable energy power generation, large-scale energy storage, and DC submarine cables. The research results have clarified the critical technologies needed for GEI, put forward technology development routes, and pointed out key research areas, which will expedite to shore up the efforts to make innovations and breakthroughs in related technologies.