FutureStructure

China Envisions $50 Trillion Worldwide Energy Network

Earth's resources are dwindling, but the world could build an alternative energy network within 30 years, according to China's biggest power company.

by / April 7, 2016

When it comes to power, China’s got a bright idea. A $50 trillion global electricity network proposed April 6 by China’s State Grid Corp. would attempt to slow the effects of climate change. The network would link solar, wind and electric plants in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas to create the largest infrastructure project in history. The network could be operational by 2050, according to the company.

Overcoming resource scarcity is a major challenge for Earth’s growing population, said State Grid Chairman Liu Zhenya, and using efficient, long-range transmission lines to share alternative energy resources is the world’s best option.

“This is the right thing to do to benefit all the people of the world,” Liu said.

The proposed network would cost $50 trillion, which is about double the economic output of China and the U.S. combined. The costs would likely be spread across the world’s nations, but exactly how or who would pay for the network has yet to be established.

While the full network wouldn’t be operational until 2050, pilot programs in Asia could showcase the viability of long-range energy transmission lines. Seven such lines have already been built by State Grid, and 10 more are now under construction.

Analysts told the Wall Street Journal that the company’s scheme is technically plausible, but the clashing political landscapes and international security fears are sizeable barriers to progress.