Jun. 13 – The Mongolian government has taken the first steps towards constructing the so-called “Asian Super Grid” through the construction of the Salkhit wind farm in its capital city of Ulaanbaatar. The proposed grid would connect the electrical power systems of China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia.
Clean Energy LLC and General Electric are powering the 50-megawatt Salkhit wind farm, which will begin operations this month. The US$122 million project is part of a concentered effort to reduce pollution, and it is Mongolia’s first new power generating project in over 30 years.
The wind farm will save 122,000 tons of coal and 1.6 million tons of water per year, in addition to eliminating 180,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
“Mongolia is regarded as one of the centers of this region for wind power… [and] we have great potential to generate power,” stated Mongolian president Tsakhia Elbegdori.
Despite this high potential, coal currently supplies 80 percent of the nation’s energy thanks to Mongolia’s recent high economic growth that has stemmed mostly from the mining sector – which grew 12.3 percent in 2012. The miner’s boom has led to increased air and water pollution, which has led the government to demand increased regulations in the sector and green investment.
Masayoshi Son, CEO of Japan’s SoftBank, first proposed the concept of the “Asia Super Grid” in 2012, noting that the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 should be seen as a sign to expand Japan’s clean energy sources. In that regard, the grid would allow Japan to import wind and solar power from Mongolia.
Despite the project’s challenges, plans to integrate the energy infrastructure of Mongolia and Japan continues to surge ahead with Clean Energy Asia and SoftBank already planning to open up another 200,000 hectare wind park in the Gobi Desert.