One thing you can’t fault China for, lack of ambition. By 2050, the country hopes to lead efforts to build a $50 trillion global wind and solar power grid that would completely change how the world is powered.
The Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) project was first introduced by the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) last year. Liu Zhenya, the SGCC chairman, expounded on the project during a visit earlier this month to Switzerland to meet with the heads of the ABB Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
According to the World Economic Forum, the project won’t just be about connecting countries’ energy grids, but actually generating enough power to run the world. China hopes to connect wind farms in the Arctic Circle with solar farms located on the Equator, in a system that will transcend national boundaries and provide clean energy everywhere.
Liu argues that the GEI is the best option if renewable sources of energy, like solar and wind, are ever going to become a practical alternative to burning dirty fossil fuels. According to the SGCC, if renewable energy generation is increased at an annual rate of 12.4% worldwide each year, then by 2050 renewable energy could account for 80% of the world’s total energy consumption.
The GEI project is divided into three major stages. From now until 2020, it will focus on the promotion of clean energy development, domestic grid interconnection and smart grid construction in countries across the world. By 2030, planners hope to connect grids between countries and build large energy bases. Then, in 2050, the emphasis will switch to creating polar and equatorial energy bases, concentrating new energy generation technologies in those areas where they can do the most good.
While the project might seem far-fetched and far off in the future, China is currently working on some other daring ideas to generate more clean energy. In a few years, Shenzhen will be home to the world’s largest waste-to-energy plant. Shortly after that, China hopes to be providing energy to its disputed islands in the South China Sea via a fleet of floating nuclear power plants.