China has been spending trillions of dollars on ultra-high voltage electrical grids, large hydroelectric dams and dams for pumped hydro energy storage. China is spending about $2.2 trillion on new energy and grid construction from 2016-2020. There are many benefits to the super-electrical grid. It enables power to be moved from massive coal, hydro, wind and solar production in north and west to the eastern part of China. China’s population is mostly on the eastern coastline. Ultra-high-voltage (UHV) power will address poor grid access and form the backbone of trans-provincial power transmission. West to east transmission capacity will increase from 130GW to 270GW. There will be air pollution reduction and the system will mean that solar, wind and hydro will be fully utilized. There should be a 10% increase in utilization and a 10% gain from lower transmission losses. This unification of China’s grid would make it far more vulnerable to cascading blackouts. Preventing blackouts and problems with the unified supergrid is taking heroic levels of engineering and planning. There is need to build extra gigawatts of reserve power at each major area of the grid in case of an outage on one of the UHV lines.
History of Dam Warfare and China’s Massive Amount of HydroThe large dams and key components of the grid would also be vulnerable to precision missile attacks. In 1938, the Nationalists breached the Yellow River dikes and caused the death of about 800,000 to 900,000 civilians. China has about 340GW of hydropower and 40GW of pumped-storage capacity. China realizes that the US would have the military capability to deep-strike China’s dams and key parts of the supergrid. However, China is assuming The USA and China both have energy and communication infrastructure that is highly vulnerable to a military peer. A military peer with long-range cruise missiles or other deep-strike precision weapons. Both countries have critical infrastructure that has vulnerabilities to cyber-warfare. The good news appears to be that China continues to execute on long-term plans with high levels of spending where efficiencies are gained in a peaceful relationship with the USA. China’s construction and infrastructure would be a problem against any equal or superior opponent.
SOURCES – IEEE, CLSA, War is Boring
Written By Brian Wang