While there are arguments for a very large scale intercontinental Asia Pacific electricity super grid, this would also create large vulnerabilities, waste more energy in transmission. For long distances there are more efficient ways to transport energy then as electricity.
As an example, a significant and increasing use for energy is in processing information, not physical goods. This is discussed in "ICT Sustainability: Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future".
The practice for refining metals which require large amounts of electricity (such as Aluminum) has been to cite plants near electricity sources. The relatively small amount of aluminum produced, with large amounts of embodied energy, can then be efficient transported. In a si9mialr way, raw information can be refined in a data cent re near electricity sources, and the refined information shipped world wide at low cost.
The Asia Pacific super grid - a vision
Professor Andrew Blakers (Centre For Sustainable Energy Systems CECS)SOLAR SEMINAR SERIES
TIME: 15:00:00 - 16:00:00
LOCATION: Ian Ross Seminar Room
The analysis explores the rationale and the possibility of a very large scale intercontinental Asia Pacific electricity super grid. Main arguments in favor of setting-up such an energy infrastructure are: (i) improved energy security through diversification of supply; (ii) the integration and transport of large quantities of fluctuating renewable energies into electricity supply structures and (iii) the utilization of localized energy storage, particularly pumped hydro, in large area energy supply structures. The talk focuses on a potential Asia Pacific grid covering Australia and south east Asian nations as far north as Singapore and Thailand . An extension towards China and the Eurasian continent seems reasonable but is beyond the scope of the analysis. Renewable energy sources include solar energy, wind, biomass, geothermal, ocean and hydro energy. The study focuses on solar energy (photovoltaics and solar thermal) as by far the largest and most promising renewable energy technology, supplemented by locally-available renewable energy sources (wind energy etc). Electricity transport will be based on the proven technology of very high voltage DC technologies. Large scale storage is required to efficiently utilize transmission cables and to cope with day/night cycles, weather-related intermittency and demand fluctuations. In the model storage is provided by pumped hydro power (by far the largest existing storage technology) or molten salt storage (for solar thermal power stations). Generally there will be a balanced bi-directional flow of electricity in the super grid; but given the very high solar electricity potential of Australia a net flow of electricity from Australia towards the North will be a characteristic of this large area electricity distribution system. Energy efficiency will play a decisive role in future sustainable energy systems. According to our model (which is a scenario, not a forecast) in 2050 approximately two thirds of a future electricity supply in Asia Pacific will be based on renewable energy sources, and one third will be generated by conventional power plants. An intermediate break down for 2030 will be discussed as well. Most probably the cost for additional investments into the grid will be compensated by the economic benefits of an Asia Pacific Super Grid.
From cell fab in UNSW to director of CSES Andrew has participated and lead many PV renewable energy projects. He has developed and worked on Slivers, concentrating solar system, ABC solar cells and many others.