You may not know that State Grid is China’s most patented technology company

It is said that the Internet has become the infrastructure of today's society, but when it comes to power cuts, everyone finds that no matter how advanced the technology is, the infrastructure we live in will always be water, electricity, and coal.

Without electricity, your phone or tablet cannot continue to work; without electricity, you will most likely lose Wi-Fi and air conditioning; without electricity, you only have a few hours a day to see the clear world. But before the emergence of the power rationing caused by this market change, everyone almost regarded electricity as being like air. The difference is that the air is free, and there is a charge for electricity.

It's just that not every place in the world has a stable power supply. The stable power supply in China in the past few years cannot be separated from the technology company with the most patents in China-the State Grid.

▲ The staff of State Grid, this company was not a technology company in our minds

23,300 invention patents, State Grid is an innovative technology company

As a super-large central enterprise engaged in power transmission and power supply business, State Grid mainly constructs and operates China's power grid to supply power throughout the country. This is an institution and a state holding company approved by the State Council to make state-authorized investment, so it will also do some things with low economic returns and high construction costs.

Powering the whole country is one of the representatives. China has a vast territory and some areas are sparsely populated. Most of these areas have harsh environments. If commercial companies are responsible for supplying electricity, these areas are likely to be abandoned because of low or even negative input-output ratios. There are indeed many cases in other countries, but remote rural areas have not yet Power supply.

At the end of 2015, as the last 39,800 people without electricity in Qinghai Province were connected to electricity, China has fully solved the problem of electricity consumption for people without electricity. From 2013 to 2015, China has invested a total of 24.78 billion yuan to implement power grid extension and renewable energy power supply projects in areas without electricity, and the ultimate goal is to solve the problem of 2.73 million people without electricity.

▲ In Lajia Town, Maqin County, Guoluo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, electric power construction workers use mules and horses to transport materials. Picture from: Xinhua News Agency

Four years later, according to the statistics of the global map of population without electricity released by the World Bank, 16% of the population still face the situation of no electricity.

Most of these power-poor areas are in Africa. The electrification rate of Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa, is only 54%. Most Nigerian technology companies face 30 or more power outages every month. Power outages have become an important factor restricting their business development.

▲ Global population without electricity

If you are only willing to spend money on infrastructure, then State Grid is a respectable company. But in fact, it is not enough to invest money in many businesses of State Grid, business innovation and technological breakthroughs may be more important.

Last year, the Qicha Big Data Research Institute launched the "Top 20 Chinese Patent Companies by Qichacha". The onlookers discovered that the first place is not the more familiar Huawei, Tencent, BOE, and Lenovo, but you have never thought about it. The National Grid has so many patents and innovations.

▲ Picture from: Qichacha

It tops the list with 23,308 invention patents, which is 3000+ more than the second Huawei's invention patents, and nearly 8,000 more than the third Sinopec. Utility model patents are also far ahead, with 32025 utility model patents almost twice that of the second-ranked Zhuhai Gree Electric Appliances.

As a low-key patent giant, State Grid not only ranks first in domestic invention patents, but also ranks among the top three in the world. In the 2018 indicators released by the World Intellectual Property Organization, China's State Grid ranked third with 21,635 intellectual property rights, and only Canon with 24006 and Samsung with 21,836 higher than it.

Even in many areas where State Grid participates in research, China has far more invention patents than other developed countries. In terms of patent applications for energy storage batteries, China accounted for 67.56% of the world's total, followed by the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

▲As of August 2021, the distribution of technology source countries in the global energy storage battery industry. Picture from: Qianzhan Industry Research Institute

As a technology company, what technical bottlenecks have it broken through?

State Grid has so many patents, where is its business?

A stable electricity environment is something everyone can feel. In addition to the current power restriction adjustment due to market reasons, civilian power has been very stable for many years. Even in an extreme environment such as a snow disaster, the emergency repair and power supply were completed in the fastest time. Compared with the 10-day blackout caused by software errors in the United States and Canada in 2003, the electricity environment in China is really friendly.

▲ The U.S. and Canada went out of power in 2003. Picture from: WSJ

Behind these stability and friendliness is actually one of the patented achievements of the State Grid.

China's resource distribution is uneven, so we will learn different knowledge about South-to-North Water Diversion, North-East Electricity Transmission, West-East Electricity Transmission, etc. in the geography class of high school. In this process, how to achieve long-distance, large-capacity, and low-loss power transmission is a headache for all countries.

UHV grid is one of the solutions for power transmission. Since the 1960s, different countries around the world have begun to study UHV transmission technology, but the different planned projects have either not been realized, or they have chosen to reduce voltage after a period of practice, like Russia, Japan, and Italy.

▲ Two technicians inspect the Guizhou section of the ±800kV UHV DC transmission project in Northwest Yunnan and Guangdong. Picture from: China Daily

Transmission voltage is generally divided into high voltage (35~220kV), ultra high voltage (330kV and above) and UHV (1000kV and above). Compared with the UHV grid, the high-voltage power grid is like the difference between the village trail and the highway, and the UHV grid is the difference between 4G and 5G compared to the UHV grid. And this 5G highway technology was used in China in 2009.

Take China's 1000kV UHV UHV AC test project in Southeast Shanxi-Nanyang-Jingmen as an example. Originally, only 2 million kilowatts can be transmitted. After UHV transformation, 5 million kilowatts can be transmitted, which is equivalent to transporting raw coal from Shanxi to Hubei every day. From 25,000 tons to 60,000 tons, it has become a "hydropower station" directly invested in the air.

The southeast Shanxi-Nanyang-Jingmen UHV AC test project, which started in 2006, was put into commercial operation in January 2009. This is China's independent research and development, independent design and independent construction of the world's AC power transmission project with the highest voltage level, the largest transmission capacity, the longest transmission distance, and the most advanced technology level in the world.

▲ 1000KV Southeast Shanxi-Nanyang-Jingmen UHV AC Demonstration Project

Today, China has 13 UHV AC projects and eleven UHV DC projects, which are continuously delivering large-capacity, low-loss electricity.

The power grid goes to sea, technology is really the core productivity

The commercial operation of UHV projects represented that the State Grid already possesses the most advanced R&D technologies, but more patent innovations have allowed them to be promoted from the representative of "Created in China" to the industry leader.

In June 2016, the world's first "large-scale source-network-load friendly interactive system" was put into operation in Jiangsu. This is the "virtual power plant" with the largest capacity in the world. The power supply and demand of the power grid are in an instantaneous balance. The intelligent technology of the State Grid makes the grid a balanced support in this system, which can regulate the power generation of the power plant while also regulating the electricity consumption of users.

▲ China's first large-scale source-net-load friendly interactive system

In June 2020, 12 of the world's first Zhangbei renewable energy flexible DC grid test and demonstration projects were completed and put into production in terms of key technologies. It uses the original new flexible DC grid technology of the State Grid, which has strong controllability, fast power adjustment speed and flexible operation mode.

Moreover, it is in line with today's environmental protection requirements. It can transmit 14 billion kilowatt-hours of clean electricity every year, save 4.9 million tons of standard coal, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 12.8 million tons. The existence of this project also enabled the Beijing Winter Olympics venues to achieve 100% clean energy power supply for the first time in the history of the Olympics.

▲Zhangbei Flexible DC Power Grid Project

The State Grid, which is a leading researcher in the same field, is also working hard to "earn foreign exchange."

The clean hydropower of the Amazon River Basin can be transmitted through the grid to the load center of southeastern Brazil more than 2,500 kilometers away. This is the result of the UHV DC project jointly won by the State Grid and the National Electric Power Company of Brazil.

In Pakistan, the Murrah DC transmission project also uses the HVDC transmission technology owned by the State Grid; the deployment of 5 million smart meters, head-end systems, and supporting terminals in Saudi Arabia is the first large-scale deployment of the State Grid’s “power consumption information collection system”. Large-scale entry into the overseas market; in Egypt, the signing of the general contract for the National Grid EETC500 kV transmission line project also led to the first large-scale entry of domestic electrical equipment into the Egyptian market.

▲ The UHV DC transmission project in the beautiful mountains of Brazil

This is the "curve overtaking" realized by technology.

In the 1980s, all the core equipment of the 8 DC transmission lines built in China depended on imports, and these equipment were usually monopolized by multinational companies. If you want to buy a DC converter valve, you have to purchase the turf in the converter station from one place. The packaged price is not discounted, only higher. But if you don't buy it, you can't build a DC project.

More than 20 years later, the huge R&D investment has been exchanged for the exclusive patent of State Grid, which in turn promoted the smooth export of equipment and technology. Here, irreplaceable technology is the core productivity.

Without God, there are no technological breakthroughs that ordinary users can directly contact, no explosive news hotspots, but the down-to-earth State Grid has successfully achieved the goal of "looking up to the stars" through a little technological breakthrough.

As the most patented "technology company" in China, the non-traditional technology company State Grid may have a much greater impact on you than other more well-known Internet companies.

Not too interesting, not too optimistic.

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