IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - 42

Grid extension is
still regarded as an
important part of
the current efforts of
rural electrification
issues.

out as a probable solution both for
electricity and agricultural production
in rural areas, the small hydro station.
Used in over half of its counties,
China has established its leading
place in exploiting small hydro in
rural areas. From early on, the government has recognized the potential of
small hydro in tackling rural electrification, and since the 1950s, it has
used professional personnel to disseminate technologies through
national and provincial meetings, training courses, and
workshops. During the 1980s, the typical investment per
county was CNY1 million for demonstration projects, and
the scale of the project gradually expanded.
Starting from 4-MW installed capacity in 1949, by the
end of 2011, a total of 45,000 SHP stations have been
installed in China, equaling an installed capacity of 62 GW,
the largest in the world. They can be classified as distributed generators because of their small generating capacity, and in this sense, China has the largest generating
capacity of distributed generation capacity. They were
developed and operated by the DPC in a local level, and
most of them are also connected to the main grid and use
the main grid to offset their seasonal variation (Figure 3).

Grid Extension

2012

2010

2008

2006

2004

2002

2000

1998

1996

1994

10
0

Billion CNY

60
50
40
30
20

1992

70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

1990

Gigawatts

In and outside of China, grid extension has always been
the most common approach for electricity access. In the
1960s, attention and policy shifted to grid extension after
the government realized the importance of electricity for
rural development. As investment in the capacity and grid
expansion began to generate surplus power, it became
possible to connect more villages to the grid. The Central
Power Company operates the county power corporation
through its provincial branch company, and most counties
served by the county power cooperation are located in
fairly developed regions with greater power consumption
and fewer power resources.

Year

Grid extension is still regarded as an
important part of the current efforts of
rural electrification issues. In the current
efforts of a three-year special movement
(2013-2015) targeting the unelectrified
population from the National Energy
Administrator (NEA), it is stipulated that
1.54 million of the current 2.73 million
people in China without electricity
should be electrified by grid extension.
Challenges prevail as the grid is extended to more remote and mountainous
areas (Figure 4). In Sichuan, for example, to reach the onceunelectrified areas, the transmission network at 35 kV with
35-kV substations is extended to Ganzi, Liangzhou, and Aba,
all on mountainous plateaus, which are expected to supply
31,000 rural residents by the end of 2014. The Tibet grid is
operated as a single grid, and the whole province is less developed and has suffered from insufficient electricity generation.
A unique case of grid extension, the Sichuan-Tibet power grid
connection project kicked off in 2013, which will connect Tibet
to the rest of the country, aiming to supply 700,000 nomadic
people who have no access to electricity (Figure 5).

emerging Technology and
New Development Trends
The feasible SHP locations in China have mostly been
exploited. Finding economically feasible locations and the
construction of new SHP plants are increasingly harder.
Western China is rich in solar and wind energy, and these
renewable energy techniques represent promising alternatives for future rural electrification.
Historically, thermal plants are in dominance of the total
installed generators. Since 1985, the Chinese government has
managed to supply almost 700 million people and generate
nearly 1,000 TWh of electricity (IEA, World Energy Outlook
2002). More than 80% of the electricity was generated from
coal, and 15-18% was generated mainly with hydropower.
China has more coal reserves, and coal is generally inexpensive to use (see Figure 6).

More Perilous
Construction
and Operation
Conditions

In Need of
Much Funding

High Cost
Grid
Extension

Investment (Billion CNY)
Installed Capacity (GW)
Figure 3. The annual installed capacity and investment of SHP in
China from 1990 to 2012. (Source: 2013 China Statistical Yearbook.)

42

I E E E E l e c t r i f i c ati o n M agaz ine / March 2015

Figure 4. The challenges for grid extension.

In Need of
Sustainable
Operation
Mechanism



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015

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IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - Cover4
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