Global energy interconnection refers to the development of a globally interconnected, ubiquitous robust smart grid, supported by backbone UHV grids (channels), and dedicated primarily to the transmission of clean energy . Comprising of transnational and transcontinental backbone grids and ubiquitous smart power grids in different countries covering the transmission/distribution of power at different voltage grades, the globally interconnected energy network is connected to large energy bases in the Arctic and equatorial regions, as well as different continents and countries. It can adapt to the need for grid access for distributed power sources with the capability to deliver wind, solar, ocean, and other renewables to different types of end users. Generally speaking, a global energy interconnection is in effect a combination of "UHV grids plus ubiquitous smart grids plus clean energy," forming a green, low-carbon platform for global allocation of energy with extensive coverage, strong allocation capability, and a high level of security and reliability.
The development framework
The development framework for global energy interconnection can be summarized as "one overall structure, two basic principles, three development stages, four important features, and five major functions.
The global energy interconnection is an organic whole, comprised of transcontinental grids, transnational grids, and national ubiquitous smart grids, together with coordinated development of local power grids at different levels. Around the world, the global energy interconnection will rely on advanced UHV transmission technology and smart grid technology, structured to facilitate connections to wind power bases in the Arctic region, solar energy bases in the equatorial regions as well as major renewable energy bases and main load centers on all continents.
At the core of a global energy interconnection is the development of transnational and transcontinental backbone networks and intercontinental network channels to link up clean energy bases around the world, including the Arctic and equatorial regions, with major load centers. The clean energy bases in the Arctic and equatorial regions deliver electricity to the load centers through multiple channels. Specifically, the wind energy bases in the Arctic region deliver electricity to Asia, Europe, and North America; the solar energy bases in North Africa and the Middle East deliver power to Europe and South Asia; and the solar energy bases in Australia deliver electric energy to Southeast Asia. Grid interconnections across different continents mainly include those between Asia and Europe.
Global energy interconnection has important implications for realizing the global energy view and implementing the two-replacement policy. As the most critical core element of global energy development, adherence to the two basic principles as follows is essential.
1) Clean Energy Development
Clean energy development is a fundamental requirement for addressing climate change and mankind's sustainable development. After an extensive, global consensus is reached, all countries in the world should build a strategic plan around the goal of low-carbon and clean energy development, to expedite changes in the mode of energy development and increase the share of clear energy, with concerted efforts to achieve more efficient development and utilization of clean energy globally. Focusing on the goal of clean and low-carbon development of energy globally, efforts should be stepped up to design and build global energy interconnections to promote an efficient development and utilization of various concentrated and distributed clean energy sources and drive the shift in development focus from conventional fossil fuels to clean energy.
2) Global Allocation
Global allocation is a function of the reverse distribution of global energy resources and load centers. By nature, the availability of clean energy resources is random and intermittent. Since clean energy resources good for large-scale development are located typically far away from load centers, consumption issues resulting from massive capacity building and extensive grid access can only be resolved by optimized allocation over larger areas to fully leverage the role of clean energy. The development of a global energy interconnection must be based on a good understanding of the world's energy resource endowments. It also necessitates a coordinated, global view of political, economic, social, and environmental factors to construct a global platform for energy allocation to link energy bases with load centers and facilitate efficient development, optimized allocation, and efficient utilization of energy at the global level. In this regard, the development of UHV transmission technology with large capacity and long-distance transmission capability will lay a sound technological foundation for large-scale and efficient allocation of electric power across continents. The ability to allocate clean energy globally can also transform the resource endowment of economically underdeveloped regions into an economic advantage and contribute to coordinated development of regional economies.
Based on an integrated view of global energy allocation, clean energy development, energy supply and demand, energy transmission and other factors, the future development of a globally interconnected energy network can be divided into three stages of intracontinental, transcontinental, and global interconnection.
First stage : To promote the formation of a consensus before 2020. With reference to the comparative advantages in technology and economics among different continents, the development of large clean energy bases should be initiated by 2030 to improve grid interconnection among countries in each continent. Development of clean energy should be expedited among different continents to deliver and consume clean energy via power grids interconnected at the intracontinental level, such as those in Northeast Asia, North America, Europe (through a synchronous grid system), Latin America, and Central and Southern Africa. While meeting the increasing demand for clean energy, the rapid growth of transnationally interconnected grids enables different countries to support and complement each other in different seasons/periods and across different types of electric energy to improve the efficiency and economics of energy systems. All countries should strengthen the construction and nationwide interconnection of domestic robust grids to better integrate them into a grid interconnected on a continent-wide basis and to receive more effectively clean energy allocated at the intracontinental Level.
Second stage : Between 2030 and 2040, the focus of development is, by building on the grid interconnection among the major countries in each continent, to achieve major progress on the development of large energy bases in the Arctic and equatorial regions and grid interconnections across continents, in ascending order of difficulty. With continued improvement in the structure of transcontinentally interconnected grids and large-scale development of wind energy bases in the Arctic region, solar energy bases in the equatorial region, and other key clean energy bases around the world, long-distance transmission, and grid interconnection across continents have become a dominant trend in the development of a global energy interconnection. Supported by the increasingly significant benefits of mutual support and back-up across different continents and time periods, a global energy interconnection has taken shape. The emphasis should be on promoting the construction of power export channels in the Arctic and equatorial regions, the transmission channel between Asia and Europe as well as the corridors of interconnections between Asia and North America, between Europe and Africa, South Asia and Africa, and North America and South America. In addition, an agency should be established to promote and coordinate collaborative efforts in global energy interconnection as the beginning of a cooperative mechanism in this area.
Third stage : Between 2040 and 2050, guided by the strategic thinking of pursuing key breakthroughs and full progress, the construction of a global energy interconnection will be gradually shaped to fulfill the two-replacement goal. With the full development and completion of solar, wind, and other clean energy bases worldwide, clean energy will replace fossil energy to assume a dominant role in power generation, while the development, transmission, and consumption of fossil energy will significant decrease, bringing into being a global platform for optimized allocation of clean energy supported by a fully-completed global energy interconnection. The global energy interconnection will be well-organized with a sound operational mechanism, with the establishment of a global system operation center. The center will form part of a larger control system, operating on a zoned and stratified approach to control, with operation centers in continents and countries. A well-developed worldwide power market will substantially increase the share of transnational and transcontinental electricity trading in total power consumption.
As the foundation for global allocation of energy, a robust grid structure is a prerequisite for the construction of a global energy interconnection. Extensive interconnection and large-area allocation of global energy resources is possible only through a robust, reliable grid structure of transnational or transcontinental interconnections. Across the world, only power grids that are scientifically planned, logically structured, safe, reliable, and operationally flexible can meet the requirements of extensive access to and consumption of wind power, solar photovoltaic energy, and distributed energy sources.
A global energy interconnection is basically shaped by extensive interconnection. The interconnection allows efficient development and broad allocation of global energy resources and related public service resources. The coordinated development and seamless connection of intercontinental backbone grids, transnational grids at the continental level, national grids, local grids, distribution grids, and microgrids can form an extensive system for allocation of energy worldwide.
High intelligence provides key support for global energy interconnection, enabling flexible grid access for various power sources and loads, while assuring security and stability for network operations. Through the extensive use of information networks, wide area measurement, high-speed sensing, highperformance computing, smart control, and other technologies, highly intelligent operations can be achieved at different grid levels and sections to automatically make prejudgements and identify most faults and risks, with a fault self-recovery capability. Real-time exchange of information supports the free flow of all elements across the network, thereby achieving efficient allocation of energy resources across different regions.
Open interactivity is a basic requirement of a global energy interconnection. The construction of this network requires coordination and close collaboration at the international level. Operationally, the network should provide equal and open access to all countries without discrimination. Grids should be allowed to discharge their functions in the market, while an open, unified, competitive, and orderly organizational system should be developed to facilitate broader exchange between users and powered equipment, two-way interaction with power grids and two-way energy flow between users and suppliers to achieve collaboration and interaction among the interested parties in global energy interconnection.
Energy transmission is the most basic function of global energy interconnection. Electric energy transmission is an important mode of energy transport, with the flow of electricity generated from coal as well as hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar energy all transmitted through power grids. As the vehicle for optimized allocation of energy resources, a global energy interconnection can convert various types of primary energy into electricity for transmission through power grids. It enables the transmission of energy and electricity at the speed of light. When the two-replacement is well-advanced in the future, renewable energy used for power generation is expected to become a dominant energy source worldwide. Global energy interconnection will also become a core element of a comprehensive energy transmission system, playing a collaborative and complementary role with conventional means of energy transport such as railway, highway, waterway, and pipelines to form a highly modernized, comprehensive global energy transmission system.
Global energy interconnection forms an important platform for optimized allocation of various energy resources. Through this platform, the network is connected to different power sources and users to realize the intensive development and efficient utilization of different energy types. With the gradually expanding coverage of grid interconnections at the global level, energy resources are distributed more effectively and on a larger scale. The development and construction of large energy bases far away from load centers, including those in the Arctic or equatorial region, contribute significantly to optimize the structure and distribute patterns of energy. In essence, the process of transmitting and distributing electricity is the process of optimizing the allocation of energy resources. As a network hub linking up different power sources and users, the global energy interconnection can optimize theallocation of energy resources, user resources, and also boost the intensive development and efficient utilization of different energy sources, including coal, petroleum, natural gas, hydropower, wind energy, and solar energy.
Global energy interconnection provides a physical foundation for global trading of electricity. While electric energy cannot be stored in large scale, a balance between electricity demand and supply must be maintained at all times. This objective reality means that market trading of electricity must be conducted through power grids and that the physical boundary of the electricity market will be determined by the coverage of these grids. Energy interconnection that covers the world are expected to become the conduit for global trading of electricity, playing a critical role in the development of a global electricity market by serving as a platform for electricity trading while assuming the responsibility for grid frequency modulation, system backup, and reactive voltage regulation.
The global energy interconnection is the incubator for fostering strategic emerging industries. An important area of technological innovation and also an important vehicle for adopting new technology, it is a strong driving force behind emerging industries, including new energy, new materials, smart equipment, electric vehicles, and information technology. The development of global energy interconnection can lead to the creation of a positive ecosphere and provide an all-round impetus to upstream and downstream industries and improve industry-level standards and speed of development.
By serving all families and industries at the community level, the global energy interconnection is a public service platform essential for production and life in the future. Along with its deep integration with the Internet of Things and the Internet, the network will evolve into a multifunctional, highlysmart public service platform to provide users with comprehensive services like energy, electricity, and information, meet the needs for diverse and quality services, and drive production and lifestyle changes. The construction of this global energy interconnection as an irreplaceable hub of public services will be integrated fully into the development of economic societies and smart cities.