As the world becomes more interconnected, it only makes sense that our energy systems follow. After last year’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, Japan is leading this charge in Asia through the year-old Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF). Joining forces with the Desertec Foundation, JREF announced its intention to promote an Asian Super Grid that connects regions with renewable energy resources with the cities that can use the clean energy.
Japan has been hard at work increasing its energy efficiency and installing solar panels wherever a roof may be. But the reality is that space is limited, and vast amounts of wind and solar power will be hard to come by on Japanese land.
In the same way that Desertec sees North Africa and the Mediterranean’s vast solar potential for Europe, the Gobi desert in Mongolia could produce immense amounts of solar and wind energy that could then be transported to cities throughout Japan, Korea and China.
To solve this problem, the JREF and Desertec are putting their efforts toward building low-loss, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission lines across Asia to connect Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia and Russia’s national grids.
This type of endeavor obviously requires a lot of cooperation and investment from all the countries involved. While Japan may be eyeing Mongolia’s power reserves, a transmission line to connect the two would lead right through China. Questions also linger on how to limit energy input to just renewable sources as China’s long-term energy plan includes nuclear power as a main component.
Under their agreement, JREF and Desertec will start working on all the details of what will likely be a long road to an Asian Super Grid. Both sides appear eager to start the process. “Technologies to harness solar and wind energy have improved dramatically in the last few years,” Tomas Kaberger, chair of the JREF executive board, said in a statement. “Combined with modern power transmission technologies, renewable energy can support the long-term economic prosperity of the region. Establishing an Asian Super Grid will be challenging and require a high-level of international collaboration but its benefits make it worth the effort.”