Yin Haitao: We are Moving Towards an Era of Energy Interconnection 2023-07-28

Last month, the "China Carbon Peak and Carbon Neutrality Progress Report (2022)" was released. The report argues that despite a complex and ever-changing domestic and international situation in 2022, the overall direction of the global green and low-carbon transformation will remain unchanged.


To achieve carbon peaking and carbon neutrality goals, all sub-sectors and industries need to take active actions. The dual-carbon and new energy sectors will inevitably play a crucial role.


To establish deep connections between industry, academia, and research, and promote the synergistic development of academic exploration and industrial practice, the Antai College of Economics and Management of Shanghai Jiao Tong University innovatively co-constructed the "Knowledge and Action" brand event with ecological partners. From March 22nd to 24th, the "Knowledge and Action" spring event came to Chengdu, focusing on dual-carbon and new energy. Through a range of activities such as seminars, field visits, and more, they jointly explored new opportunities for innovative development of government, enterprises, and universities under the "dual-carbon" background.


During the event, Professor Yin Haitao, the deputy dean of Antai College of Economics and Management at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, shared his thoughts on "Energy Transformation under the Trend of Carbon Neutrality." He believes that carbon neutrality has brought about a profound energy reform and industry transformation, and the key to the future development of new energy will lie in the field of energy storage.


"The realization of the dual carbon goals will become a tool for China to complete industrial and energy transformation. Completing the energy transformation is not only beneficial to environmental protection, but will also help China reduce its dependence on energy, ensuring energy security," Yin Haitao said.


Now: The key issue in new energy generation is energy storage


Yin Haitao pointed out that, from the perspective of addressing climate change, China is one of the countries most frequently hit by climate disasters. According to statistics, from 2010 to 2019, a total of 577 climate disaster events occurred in China, ranking first globally. Therefore, reducing carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality is necessary.


By 2030, the proportion of non-fossil energy consumption in China will reach about 25%, and the total installed capacity of wind power and solar power will exceed 1.2 billion kilowatts. Under the goals of "carbon peaking and carbon neutrality," the "Fourteenth Five-Year Plan" period will see a peak in market-oriented construction in China's photovoltaic market.


During the rapid development of the photovoltaic industry, Yin Haitao emphasized that we need to study the history of photovoltaic development in other countries and take it as a reference.


He cited, for example, that from 2009 to 2014, the proportion of photovoltaic power generation in Germany's total power generation steadily increased. But a careful observation reveals that after 2014, the growth of the proportion of photovoltaic power generation in total power generation in Germany was no longer significant.


However, at that time, the cost of photovoltaic power generation in Germany was relatively low. What reduced the speed of Germany's photovoltaic development?


"We analyzed the power demand curve of Germany over 24 hours and found that after allowing photovoltaic power to have priority access to meet peak electricity demand in the morning and evening, the operational status of thermal power as a backup power generation method would significantly decrease. The critical issue is that when the operational status of thermal power drops below 50%, the insufficient burning of coal will lead to rising economic costs and more emissions of pollutants such as carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide," Yin Haitao explained.


So, the overall economic cost and total carbon emissions, which could not be reduced, hampered the development of the photovoltaic industry in Germany. How should the entire power system further accommodate and integrate renewable electricity and reduce the use of non-renewable energy? Yin Haitao believes that the key lies in solving the problem of energy storage for new energy power generation. Currently, electrochemical energy storage and hydrogen storage have become two key directions.


Energy storage is profoundly changing our energy structure in transportation and daily life. Yin Haitao mentioned, "The direction of future sustainable transportation development is not certain. But what is certain is that it cannot go against the grain of carbon neutrality and sustainable development."


"China's electrochemical energy storage sector is also rapidly developing. Many provinces nationwide are actively setting up energy storage projects, and the energy storage market is expanding rapidly," he added.


Future: The energy system will be established on a digital foundation


In Yin Haitao's view, carbon neutrality has brought about a profound energy transformation and industry transition.


In October 2021, the State Council issued the "Carbon Peaking Action Plan before 2030," which became the top-level design for the goals of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality. The "1+N" system of the "dual carbon" target mainly includes the implementation of carbon peaking plans in energy, industry, transportation, urban and rural construction, and other sectors and industries.


During the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, China and the United States issued the "China-US Glasgow Joint Statement on Strengthening Climate Action in the 2020s." To reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the two countries plan to cooperate to support policies effectively integrating high proportion, low-cost, intermittent renewable energy; encourage transmission policies effectively balancing wide geographical power supply and demand; encourage distributed power generation policies integrating solar energy, energy storage, and other cleaner energy solutions closer to the power usage end; and reduce power wastage efficiency policies and standards.


From the energy perspective, the traditional power system has characteristics such as instantaneous supply-demand balance, centralized production, and long-distance transportation, requiring certainty in supply and demand.


The new type of power system, mainly composed of new energy, presents distributed characteristics and involves multiple stakeholders, making the prediction of supply and demand increasingly difficult.


Yin Haitao emphasized that new energy as the main source of power generation will bring innovation to the power system. In the new power system, we need to pay attention to the management of both the supply and demand sides.


Looking forward, he believes we are moving towards an era of energy interconnection. In the future, energy and information interconnection will be realized between virtual power plants and the spot electricity market, and the coordinated development of sources, networks, loads, and storage will be achieved in the processes of power generation, transmission, distribution, and usage of both fossil and renewable energy.


"Now, we already have strong computational power and data processing capabilities. With more and more decentralized storage systems, virtual power plants will become an important concept. The entire energy system may be built on a digital foundation in the future," he said.