Thursday, April 24, 2008

Transmission and Distribution - A Global Snapshot

In China, the State Council authorised a huge expansion of capital expenditure in transmission and distribution in the 11th Five-Year Development Plan (2006-10), but for quite a different reason from Europe and North America. The transmission and distribution system is not reaching the end of its life in China, there is simply not enough of it. For the last fifty years China has spent 80% of investment in the electrical sector on generation and only 20% on transmission and distribution, following the Soviet style ideology which gives primacy to heavy industry, in this case power generation. The sudden addition, partly unexpected and unplanned, of 200 GW to Chinese generating capacity in 2006 and 2007 used up any gains that had already been made in transmission and distribution capacity. The Chinese authorities were forced to accept that it is not enough just to produce more electricity, it also has to be transported to the users. The result has been the allocation of $153 billion to be invested in transmission and distribution in China between 2006 and 2010.

India is starting to follow suite with increased capital expenditure in transmission and distribution as well as generation, on a smaller scale than China but still significantly.

The internationalisation which started in
Europe and the Nordic regions is now being replicated in other regions of the world. Perhaps the most notable example of this is the Med Ring which has created a circle around the Mediterranean, linking the Middle Eastern countries with North Africa, from Morocco to Spain to the western European networks and on the eastern side through Sudel to south eastern Europe. This will eventually be linked across the Sahara to the various new Power Pools in Central, East and West Africa, right down to South Africa.


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