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Mongolia Eyes East Asian Supergrid Scheme

Its cheap and abundant energy resources are crucial to the ambitious project – but first, they must be developed.

15 June 2017

Two backers of a visionary plan to create an East Asian “supergrid” supplied by Mongolian energy have reaffirmed their commitment to the project.

 

The chief executives of South Korean state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) and Japan’s telecommunications and tech group SoftBank met recently and agreed to boost cooperation on the continental grid project and explore other energy projects to help usher in the “fourth industrial revolution,” South Korea’s Pulse reports today.

 

The idea is to send energy from Mongolian solar or wind farms to China, Korea, and Japan via a massive new power grid.

 

China’s State Grid Corp. is also exploring similar proposals along with Mongolian companies.

 

“Mongolia, desperate to make more of its abundant resources as it seeks to revive its flailing economy, aims to make that vision a reality through one of the world’s most ambitious power projects, Bloomberg wrote recently.

 

An official with Mongolia’s Shivee Energy Complex said the country was considering a $7 billion plan to supply electricity to China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan.

 

China’s State Grid is conducting a feasibility study of the huge, 5,000 megawatt state-backed Shivee project, the official said.

 

 

The low price of Mongolian energy is central to KEPCO president and chief executive Cho Hwan-eik’s supergrid vision. Electricity can be produced there for just a 10th of the cost in Japan, according to Pulse.

 

But analysts say the plan faces a raft of obstacles, Bloomberg says, ranging from technical issues of moving electricity across several countries with different grids and infrastructure, to security concerns.

 

“Countries may become cautious about taking Chinese technology, worrying this could endanger their own power system security or even national security,” Wood Mackenzie consultant Frank Yu said.

 

 

  • Russian electricity company Rosseti is also involved in discussions about an Asian “energy ring,” Konstantin Petukhov, deputy director general for development, told Bloomberg. Rosseti is also talking with the Mongolian government about building a new power grid.

 

  • Cho and his SoftBank counterpart Masayoshi Son share the view that the proposed supergrid can help cut air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, a KEPCO official said. They also see the grid as paving the way for a regional economic community.

 

  • Liu Zhenya, the former chairman of State Grid, has floated an even more ambitious plan to spend $50 trillion by 2050 on a global electricity network.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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