China State Grid becomes shareholder of Dii

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In a hugely symbolic announcement, the Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) has this week welcomed the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) as a shareholder to its board.

Through its China Electric Power Research Institute (CEPRI) subsidiary, the largest power utility in the world will assist Dii in exploring its objectives to further the connection of clean energy projects between countries and continents, said CEPRI vice president Liang Zhong Yao.

"One of the strategic focus areas of SGCC is the global allocation of renewable energy," remarked Zhong Yao. "In this framework, SGCC is very keen to find options for contributing effectively to future transmission extension projects connecting countries and continents. We regard Dii as a unique alliance with a strong reputation for the integration of renewable energy from the deserts into interconnected power systems."

SGCC ranks 7th in the Fortune Global 500 for 2013, and has reiterated this year its intentions to provide more economical, cleaner and sustainable power supply services. In aligning itself with Dii, the utility’s influence in the EU and MENA regions is likely to be keenly felt in the coming years.

"We all feel very honored that SGCC decided to reinforce the ranks of our international industry initiative as a new shareholder," said Paul van Son, Dii CEO. "I warmly welcome that SGCC’s highly respected research institute CEPRI will, among others, contribute comprehensive experience in transmission and renewable energy technologies to our initiative."

van Son added that he hoped CEPRI’s expertise will enable Dii to better capture huge synergies through long-distance direct current high voltage transmission throughout Europe and MENA – an aim that has been Dii’s modus operandi since it was first realized in 2009.

However, although the EU recently funded some of Dii’s initiatives in North Africa, the organization has recently rolled back on its goal of supplying 20% of Europe’s renewable energy from MENA by 2050, focusing instead on supporting a number of viable renewable energy projects throughout the region via small-scale investments and guidance.

For SGCC – who are the first Asian shareholders in Dii – the collaboration will allow the company to develop the knowledge and techniques required to pursue its own domestic aims, namely exploiting its vast solar and wind energy potential in sparsely populated western regions and transporting that clean energy to China’s power-hungry coastal centres in the east.