BEIJING, Mar. 18 --
Large-scale construction of China's modernized electricity network or smart grid is slated to begin in 2011, according to the nation's power grid operator.
The timeline for the comprehensive system - designed to increase the country's power transmission capabilities - will run from 2011 to 2015.
A smart grid is a modernized electricity network that delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers to save energy, reduce costs and increase reliability.
The plan will include construction of ultra-high voltage power transmission lines, according to State Grid Corp of China, which is in charge of the power supply for 26 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in the country.
Xiao Liye, a smart grid expert at the Institute of Electrical Engineering under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said larger-scale smart grid construction will be included in China's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).
Cai Guoxiong, deputy chief engineer of the China Electric Power Research Institute under State Grid Corp, said the smart grid has been tested in large and medium-sized cities since the company started construction in 2009.
China put construction of the smart grid on its strategic agenda to facilitate the use of renewable energy and reduce the country's excessive reliance on pollution generating coal power, according to Cai.
Construction of the grid fits well with the country's efforts to build an environmentally friendly economy. The project will boost the development of clean energy, improve energy efficiency and bolster pollution controls, according to State Grid Corp.
These efforts may also give a shot in the arm to other industries such as the electric vehicle sector, said the company.
With the smart grid, electricity can be sent across longer distances with higher efficiency, which can boost the development of large hydropower, nuclear power and renewable energy bases. Electricity generated by wind farms and solar power plants can be more easily connected with the grid, said industry insiders.
State Grid Corp said earlier it planned to invest 100 billion yuan ($14.6 billion) into building ultra-high voltage power transmission lines over the next three to four years.
The company's first ultra-high voltage power transmission line linking Changzhi in Shanxi province to Jingmen in Hubei province began operation in January last year. The line transmitted nearly 8 billion kWh of electricity by Dec 15, 2009, according to the company.
State Grid also plans to construct 75 charging stations for electric vehicles across 27 cities this year. It completed construction on its first electric car-charging station last November.
According to State Grid Corp's investment plan for this year, the company will inject 227.4 billion yuan into building power grids.