On November 9th the Chinese government approved a US $586 billion stimulus plan focused on large-scale investment in low-income housing, water, rural infrastructure and electricity in China. Though the primary purpose of this initiative is to spur economic growth at a time when exports are falling, as the Chinese stock market is in the doldrums and GDP growth is flagging, a secondary effect of this stimulus plan may be increased investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency in China.
This effort would include accelerating efforts to achieve the goal of reducing China’s energy consumption per unit of GDP by a cumulative 20% by 2010. One very promising approach for China to build energy conservation into its infrastructure is the construction of a “smart grid.”
The “smart grid” is the merging of electricity infrastructure with information technology. The purpose is to add monitoring, analysis, control and communication capabilities to any national electrical delivery system to maximize efficiency while reducing energy consumption. Creating a unified power grid and upgrading aging power systems will increase productivity, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and increase national security.
The detail of the Smart Grid project is described on Joint US-China Cooperation on Clean Energy (JUCCCE)’s website. This project was discussed in JUCCCE‘s recent convention in Beijing on November 10-11.
The Smart Grid Program’s initial goals: stimulate interest in Smart Grid planning, in China, and identify a few key Chinese leaders. Smart Grid will involve bringing in a series of international experts to China, over time. These discussions will help disparate groups begin to define Smart Grid in the context of China—as JUCCCE investigates case studies on return on investment (ROI). Smart Grid will outline a set of necessary early decisions, in China, so as not to make later implementation unnecessarily expensive.
The Smart Grid Program’s secondary goal: create a feasibility study of the financial, policy and technical requirements of a Smart Grid in China.
The Smart Grid Program’s third goal: catalyze a regional pilot for Smart Grid.