Germany's Siemens has won a €300m order to bring electrical power to China's power-hungry Pearl River Delta. With a capacity of 5000MW, the company claims the link will be highest capacity long-distance transmission link ever built.
The 800kV DC link will stretch over 1,400km from the province of Yunnan, where new hydroelectric plants are being built, to the province of Guangdong, where more electricity is needed because of soaring demand from the industries of the Pearl River Delta area.
Large-scale HEP projects don't enjoy a particularly favourable press in the west because of their great environmental impact. The world's largest is China's controversial Three Gorges Dam scheme (pictured) which is scheduled for completion in 2009.
The project has been plagued by corruption, spiraling costs, environmental problems and resettlement difficulties, according to environmentalists. Roughly one million people have been displaced by construction of the Three Gorges Dam so far and more than 32,000 hectares of agricultural land will be flooded.
Environmentalists argue that these giant HEP schemes are unnecessary and that China should tame its ravenous energy appetite through greater energy efficiency and adopt less controversial forms of renewable energy. China's National Development and Reform Commission estimates that China could reduce its energy use by 100,000 MW by 2020 through demand-side management policies and efficiency measures.
Nevertheless, Siemens prefers to stay out of the debate over HEP and, disingenuously, it argues that the HVDC link will save the emission of more than 30m tons of CO2 a year. The company says this is how much greenhouse gas would otherwise be produced if additional fossil-fired power plants were constructed in the the province of Guangdong to serve the regional grid.
This new supersized HVDC link won't start commercial operation until mid-2010.
China is the fastest growing market in the field of power transmission and distribution and Siemens says it become the world's largest single market for HVDC transmission technology over the next 20 to 30 years.
Siemens has a hackneyed — and unintentionally hilarious — video promoting the supposed benefits of its HVDC technology for China here (WMV format).
More on the Three Gorges Dam and its environmental impact here.