A lot of smart grid news has come out of Asia this week:
– First off, China. On Tuesday, Honeywell announced the first project for a U.S.-Chinese government smart grid partnership aimed at bringing faster demand response technologies to market.
The north China city of Tianjin is the target, and the goal is to cut energy use in office buildings, government centers, factories and industrial facilities to prevent blackouts or forced outages when grid power demand is at its peak.
It was almost a year ago when Honeywell first announced it would work with State Grid Corp. of China on demand response, which gives a sense of how slowly a bilateral government research effort can take to develop. Jeremy Eaton, VP of Honeywell Energy Solutions, wouldn’t say when the newly announced project was expected to be complete, how much it might cost or how much power it would harness, though Honeywell’s system is designed to drop megawatts within minutes.
It could be big. Honeywell’s agreement is with the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA), one of China’s mega-growth industrial/technology zones, and the city itself has about 11.5 million inhabitants, which means there’s a lot of power to shed.
Indeed, China has struggled with peak power demands for decades, and the country’s rapid economic growth has only multiplied the problem, Eaton said. At the same time, China’s massive wind power farms in its Western desert regions will be delivering gigawatts of intermittent electricity to grids that weren’t built to handle it, stressing the system all the way down to the level of individual users.
But all of China’s demand response is manual today — and much of it is done via government decree. I visited Chongqing in 1992, where some apartment buildings only got electricity every other day during the smog-choked summer afternoons when peak demand was at its highest. Today, State Grid imposes curtailment quotas on residential, commercial and industrial users on a regular basis, Eaton said — a reflection of the Chinese government’s power over private enterprise.