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Sat Dec 1, 2012, 12:16 PM

The Asian Super Grid

By John A. Mathews

Source: The Asia-Pacific Journal

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The integration of East Asia is a topic of perennial interest – whether it be monetary integration (much discussed in the wake of the 1997 financial crisis), trade integration (promoted via ever-expanding FTA areas) or even political integration. But what is not widely discussed (as yet) is actually the best hope for effective integration – and that is energy integration, via an Asian super grid linking the enhanced electric power systems of China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia and perhaps Russia.

Just such an Asian Super Grid has been proposed – by the charismatic Softbank CEO Son Masayoshi, driver of Japan’s post-Fukushima shift to a renewable energy pathway. The first steps towards the Asian Super Grid (ASG) were taken in October, when SB Renewables, Son’s new subsidiary specializing in renewable energy, announced an agreement with a company in Mongolia, Newcom, to develop a site in the Gobi desert for a giant wind farm that would feed renewable power into the grid. (See ‘Softbank plans to develop wind power in Mongolia with Newcom’, by Chisake Watanabe, Bloomberg, Oct 24 2012)

By the end of 2012, it is anticipated that SB Renewables and Newcom will have identified the site for the first wind farm in the Gobi desert through a joint venture, Clean Energy Asia established in March 2012. The proposed wind farm would be rated at 300 MW (the equivalent of a thermal power plant), and could be operational as early as 2014. Feasibility studies for three other sites have already been commissioned, with power capacity of 7 GW – or the equivalent of seven nuclear power stations.

Newcom has already established a track record, building Mongolia’s first wind farm in record time, and bringing it to fruition by the end of 2012. Mongolia is a classic instance of a latecomer country powering ahead through heavy utilization of its vast fossil fuel reserves (mainly coal). It is a country sharing major borders with China and Russia that has had unprecedented flows of inward foreign investment from companies like Rio Tinto to build its coal export industry – much of that coal going to power China’s black industrial revolution. But at the same time, Mongolia is seeing the development of vast wind farms that promise a genuine green revolution. Newcom, led by its English-speaking CEO, Bayanjargal Byambasaikhan, has created a huge new wind farm at Salkhit, just outside the capital Ulan Bator, where 31 wind turbines are being brought into commission to generate 5% of the country’s power needs (now totally dependent on coal). (See Kit Gillett, ‘Wind farms in Mongolia could help minimize pollution, reliance on coal’, Globalpost, Aug 13 2012.)

More: http://www.zcommunications.org/the-asian-super-grid-by-john-a-mathews

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polly7 Dec 2012 OP
Uncle Joe Dec 2012 #1
reACTIONary Dec 2012 #2

Response to polly7 (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 01:42 PM

1. Kicked and recommended.

Thanks for the thread, polly.

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Response to polly7 (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:16 AM

2. Interesting. What I wonder is...

...how practical it is to include Japan, since the grid would then have to use undersea power cables. Great for Japan, as long as it isn't used as a political leaver, but is it feasible?

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