Grid leap forward

Updated on
The World

It’s no secret that China has embraced alternative energy on a massive scale. The Three Gorges Dam in China’s Sichuan Province is the world’s largest electric plant. It has a capacity of 18.3 gigawatts, enough that it could support the entire state of Alabama.

Now, in rural Gansu province to the north, the government is building a wind farm slated to generate even more power than the dam.

But financing and constructing these mega-projects is only part of the challenge. Getting the electricity to consumers is an equally formidable task, and one that so far hasn’t kept pace.

To date, China has only installed 12 percent of the 100 gigawatts of wind power it expects to have in place by 2020. But last year, more than a fifth of its wind power capacity went to waste because the electric grid could not deliver the energy to coastal “load centers” thirsty for energy to fuel the economic boom....

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