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GE to build China smart grid demo center

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- GE will partner with the Chinese city of Yangzhou to build a smart grid demonstration center, the company announced Friday.

GE says the initial demonstration phase -- which will include wireless-enabled smart meters, home energy management systems and smart appliances set up in a 100,000-square-foot lab -- is designed to showcase how GE technologies can "help China improve the reliability, efficiency and carbon footprint of its energy delivery."

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Grid infrastructure and control technologies to be used in the demonstration include automated outage identification and restoration software, field-force automation and deployment systems and grid-wide network management software.

"As Chinese engineers design new cities and upgrade existing infrastructure, we're going to show them how GE technology can help build a world-class model of reliability and efficiency at just about every point in the transmission, distribution and consumption processes," Mark Norbom, president and CEO of GE's China business, said in a release.

"Yangzhou's initiative will be a showcase to demonstrate how China can get the power it needs and reduce energy's environmental impact at the same time," Norbom said.

Yangzhou, located on the Yangtze River in Jiangsu province, has an urban population of 1.5 million people and another 3 million in surrounding areas.

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"We value GE's end-to-end infrastructure vision and the fact that they are delivering technologies already proven for reliability and savings," Zhengyi Xie, the city mayor of Yangzhou, said in the GE release. "We hope GE's advanced smart grid technology will enhance the local infrastructure and the whole relevant industry as well."

State Grid Corp., China's power distribution monopoly that controls the grid covering 80 percent of mainland China, announced in May its goal of building a smart grid by 2020 to improve efficiency and distribute power more flexibly.

The world's second-largest energy user, China could spend as much a $100 billion a year through 2020 to build a modern grid, Huang Shouhong, an analyst at Essence Securities Ltd., told Bloomberg following State Grid's announcement.

In 2008 China's investment in grids already exceeded investment in power generation, according to the China Electricity Council.

Aside from GE, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Westinghouse and ABB are also vying for a piece of China's grid market, Business Week reports. IBM, the magazine said, expects at least $400 million in smart-grid revenues in China over the next four years.

China currently operates about 1.18 million kilometers of mostly older transmission lines. The country ran about 3 million gigawatt-hours of electricity through its grid in 2008, with 6.6 percent being lost during transmission, according to the Shanghai Daily. China's total power demand is expected to more than double by 2020.

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