A Renewable Future: Asian Super Grid

Leander Rodrigues - 1A Nanotechnology
Posted on: November 19, 2016

There has been some great news that has gone under the radar for the past few weeks, which is regarding renewable energy. As of now, 88% of the energy consumption around the world comes from oil, coal, and natural gas. All of these fossil fuels are harmful for the environment and negatively affect the Earth’s climate via smog, acid rain, and rising sea levels, but everyone knows that. Leonardo DiCaprio even talked about this in his Oscar acceptance speech, so this is a very real problem that people know about already. Unfortunately, there hasn’t much initiative taken to combat this environmental problem, but that might be turning around very soon.

Entrepreneurs in China, South Korea, Russia, and Japan have agreed to commit to a dedicated plan for clean energy across Asia. The purpose is to provide clean energy as an alternative to fossil fuels and get electricity to consumers across the continent.  This was outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding that seeks to fulfill the goal of clean energy by creating a massive clean electricity grid spanning the aforementioned developed countries solely based on hydro, wind, and solar energy. The countries were chosen based on their capabilities to provide much clean energy for the population in demand.

This idea to route power all around Asia sounds like a pipe dream initially, but it is going to be made a reality in China because of Masayoshi Son, the founder and head of the telecom and Internet giant SoftBank Group. He was inspired by the tragedy following the 2011 Tohuku earthquake, where a nuclear power plant leaked and the power company was mandated to declare a nuclear state of emergency due to high radiation levels and flooding within the plant. He went on establish the Renewable Energy Institute soon afterwards to promote clean energy as an alternative form of power. At the time, he knew very little about renewable energy, but was given an estimation that he could use solar and wind energy in the Gobi Desert region of China to provide enough power to replace thousands of nuclear reactors! The statistic was deemed to be a political impossibility, but with his attempts at unifying the alternative power industries across Asia it is becoming more and more possible!

Meanwhile, Japan has some work to do across the country before this grid can be established. The country is split pretty evenly between two different AC currents— 60Hz and 50Hz—which would make a unified grid difficult for entire country. The origin of this two current system is long and forgotten, but that does not mean that it can’t be fixed. The wonderful thing about the time we live in now is that the cost of wind and solar power is falling rapidly, both for consumers and providers. With that, Japan can still contribute to the power grid and invest in changing the current for half the country so that they can reap the benefits of joining the super grid.

Optimistically, the plan to have a fully functioning Asian Power Grid is projected to be achieved by 2050. By then, it is expected that most of the world’s energy would come from sustainable sources and we as the human race will have nearly eliminated fossil fuels as an energy source. The technology already exists; the goal is just to have the political basis and agreement as a species to save the planet we’re on, and to allow future generations to experience the world we live in today.