Chinese news agencies and websites reported on September 23 that state-run utility China Southern Power Grid (CSG) will be investing to massively expand its energy storage capacity between the period from the 14th to 16th Five-Year Plan. In particular, CSG plans to install 36GW of pumped hydroelectric energy storage (PHES) in order to support the transition to an electric power system based on new energy technologies. CSG unveiled this investment project to local media via its subsidiary that is responsible for load and frequency management, and the intention behind the project is to help the central government achieve its targets related to peak and net-zero CO2 emissions.
Like other countries that are proactively pursuing energy transition and greenhouse gas reduction, China has been engaging in the large-scale deployments of new energy technologies. The connections of PV power plants and wind farms to the country’s power grids have also brought about enormous challenges. Renewable energies such as solar PV and wind power are known for their variability, intermittency, and dramatic output fluctuations. These shortcomings translate to instances of significant supply-demand mismatching. Hence, as the Chinese government builds out its new energy infrastructure, there is the growing need to find solutions that will allow effective storage and dispatching of the electricity from renewable sources. In fact, energy storage has become a critical aspect in the development process.
At present, PHES is regarded as the most mature and economically viable energy storage technology that can be deployed in large scale in China. On the other hand, substantial progress has also been made in the development of other kinds of energy storage technologies such as those based on electrochemical storage. CSG therefore will be accelerating the installation of PHES capacity as well as other advanced energy storage systems in the period between the 14th and 16th Five-Year Plans.
Liu Guogang, chairman of CSG’s subsidiary, said that his company is currently responsible for the speedy implementation of CSG’s strategy for the installation of new energy generation systems, new energy storage systems, and PHES capacity. According to its schedule, the company will add 6GW, 15GW, and 15GW of PHES capacity respectively during the periods of the 14th, 15th, and 16th Five-Year Plans.
This May, CSG released a white paper on “New Power System Action Plan”. The white paper not only laid out the schedule for installing PHES capacity but also stated that a new mechanism will be developed for trading electricity with energy storage projects and virtual power plants. CSG will also promote the formation of a market for demand response that covers five provinces. Presently, the utility aims to cut its peak load by more than 5% by 2030.