China’s Smart Grid Program: One Goal, Two Main Lines, Three Stages and More

Written by Yimin Wang

As the country's principal utility, the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) is dedicated to developing a smart grid, to promote clean energy, elevate energy efficiency, tackle climate change and reduce emissions. SGCC has launched a comprehensive program to build what it calls a Strong and Smart Grid, putting major efforts into grid planning, testing and research systems, demonstration projects, international cooperation and standardization.

The State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) is the largest utility in the world, serving more than 1 billion domestic customers in 88 percent of the country's territory, covering 26 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. In overseas markets, SGCC also operates the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and seven transmission companies in Brazil.

In the last few years, the challenges brought on by climate change have driven the main trends in global policy. The trends are to develop smart grids, promote clean energy, ensure energy security and boost energy efficiency. Taking local conditions into account, SGCC proposed to develop the Strong & Smart Grid in 2009, based on an ultra-high-voltage (UHV) grid backbone and coordinated development of subordinate grids at all levels. These subordinate grids would be IT-based, automated and interactive.

Realizing the importance of top-level architecture design in building the smart grid, SGCC immediately launched a planning process, compiling and drafting standards at the outset. It has completed the development and planning phase, which includes both province-level planning (to adapt roadmaps to local conditions) and specific subject planning (such as new equipment and technical standards). SGCC has established clear strategic targets to achieve the goal of building a strong and smart grid from several directions at once.

The strategic targets can be summed up as one goal, two main lines, three stages, four systems, five characteristics and six sectors. Thus, the goal of building a strong and smart grid will feature two parallel efforts: technology (to incorporate information into the grid to make it automatic and interactive), and management (integrated operation, consolidated development, standardized construction and streamlined control). As for the three stages, the program's pilot study phase was executed in 2009-2010, construction of key elements will take place in 2010-2015 and enhancements are planned for 2016-2020.

The four systems refer to the strong and smart grid's foundation, technical support, applications and standards. Its five characteristics are to be strong and reliable, cost-efficient, clean and environmentally-friendly, open and transparent, and user-friendly and interactive. The six sectors it embraces are generation, transmission, energy conversion, distribution, supply and dispatch.

SGCC has developed a "Smart Grid Technical Standards System" as the roadmap for the nation's smart grid standardization, which covers 8 domains, 26 technical areas and 92 standards series. The first version of the system was completed and released in 2010; revision of a second version was completed this year, based on the lessons and experiences from pilot projects. In the 2011-2015 phase, SGCC will revise the framework on a rolling basis and incorporate suitable advances that have been achieved internationally.

As for the future, SGCC plans to put forward:

  • Three international standards proposals in UHV-AC transmission
  • Five IEC standards development proposals in High/Ultra High Voltage DC transmission
  • Series standards under IEC PC 118 in smart grid user interface
  • Three new IEC proposals about charging and discharging of electric vehicles

As a foundation platform for scientific research, a fully functional test and research system is indispensable. Accordingly, SGCC has built the internationally leading UHV-AC Test base, UHV-DC Test Base in Beijing, the Tibet High Altitude Test Base (Lhasa), the National Grid Simulation Center and Metering Center (Beijing), the National Energy Research (Test) Center for Solar Power Technology and the National Energy R&D (Experiment) Center for Large-scale Wind Power Integration (both in the Zhangei area of Hebei province), and the National Energy Smart Grid Technology R&D Center (Beijing and Najing).

The wind integration test center, established in January 2010, is equipped with 30 test beds to evaluate eight wind turbine functions, including power performance, low-voltage ride-through and anti-disturbance capabilities. The solar test center, also set up in January 2010, is a full-range test laboratory for MW-level PV inverters, designed to conduct ten integration tests for PV stations, inverter type tests and connection tests.

To properly verify research achievements through practice, SGCC launched the construction of smart grid demonstration pilot projects. As of June 2012, SGCC has finished the first phase of the National Wind and Solar Power Generation/Energy Storage/Transmission Demonstration Project, including 100 MW of wind power, 40 MW of solar power and 14 MW of energy storage; and put in place 65 newly built and refurbished smart substations (increasing capacity from 10(66) KV to 750 KV). It has carried out distribution automation pilots in 23 urban cores, and deployed energy consumption information collection systems in 25 provinces, as 243 charging stations have been built and brought into operation.

Comprehensive smart grid demonstration projects were specially designed for the Shanghai World Expo and Tianjin Eco-town, integrating clean energy generation, distributed energy generation and storage, smart homes, electric vehicles and more.

SGCC appreciates international communication and cooperation in the smart grid field. In 2011, SGCC and IEEE jointly hosted the Smart Grid World Forum in Beijing. Under the China-U. S. Ten Year Framework for Energy and Environment Cooperation, SGCC has cooperated with several U.S. corporations such as GE and Honeywell in smart distribution and automated demand response projects. In particular, the SGCC-Cisco cooperation agreement concerning ICT technology in smart grid has a bright future.

In addition, SGCC plays an active role in standardization activities of IEC and other international standard organizations. It serves as the Secretariat of IEC PC 118 Smart Grid User Interface, and leads the compiling of the IEC Market Strategy Board's Integration of Bulk Renewable Energy Generation and Large Capacity Electricity Energy Storage white paper It also has taken the lead in formulation of three IEEE UHV AC standards and the P2030.3 Standard for Test Procedures for Electric Energy Storage Equipment and Systems for Electric Power Systems Applications.



y wang

Yimin Wang, a senior member of IEEE, is chief of the science and technology department at SGCC. Prior to his current assignment, he served as the deputy chief of the National Electric Power Dispatching and Communication Center, and chief of the department of production technology at SGCC. He is an expert in power dispatching and automation technology and has extensive experience in management of electric assets, power planning and technology. Under his leadership, SGCC has achieved breakthroughs in smart grid planning design, standardization and technology research and development.