Connect to share and comment

Grid leap forward

To much fanfare, Obama recently committed $3.4 billion to "smart grid" electric modernization. Now China is investing $670 billion.

A man stands in front of a wind turbine in Gansu province, where China is building the world's largest wind farm. (Photo by Jason Lee/Reuters.)

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....

Editor's note: the remainder of this article is restricted to members of GlobalPost Passport. Continue reading if you are a Passport member.

Passport helps GlobalPost support its worldwide news operation. By joining, you'll get exclusive in-depth reporting, regular access to our foreign correspondents, and a voice in the topics Passport covers. Support GlobalPost by becoming a member of our inner circle. Learn more about Passport's innovative community.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/mexico/091116/grid-leap-forward