China's first remote-island intelligent microgrid officially went into operation on Yongxing Island in the South China Sea on Sunday in a move that Chinese experts hailed as beneficial to regional civil and military development.
The small power grid increases the island's power supply eightfold and can operate independently or in conjunction with Hainan Province's main electrical grid to satisfy civilian and military demand for electricity.
The first microgrid can later be developed into a microgrid control center that manages other microgrid networks on other remote islands in the South China Sea.
"The establishment of the microgrid demonstrates China's capability in civilian public services and will help prompt the development of the South China Sea," Chen Xiangmiao, a research fellow at the Hainan-based National Institute for the South China Sea, told the Global Times on Monday.
Electricity on the island is generated from sources including diesel and photovoltaic energy, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.
The hybrid power generation can better meet increasing civil electricity demand for medical services, emergency rescue, logistics, airport operation and tourism development, Chen said.
The microgrid also aids military personnel and weaponry, analysts said.
Stable electricity underwrites military stations and daily military operations in the South China Sea. Surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles, for example, need not depend solely on electric vehicles, said Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator.
The service life of weaponry can be extended by reducing their reliance on self-contained chargers, Song told the Global Times on Monday.
Stable electricity was also critical at armories and arms depots for handling the high temperatures, humidity and salinity of the islands, Song noted.
Yongxing Island - the largest of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea - depended on smaller generators and the system was sometimes overloaded and fried fishermen's refrigerator circuits, Sansha power supply bureau chief Wu Yu told CCTV.
But now the electrical reliability of the island can be controlled by Hainan's network control center in Haikou through fiber-optic submarine cables, Wu said.
Data grasped by the microgrid can be shared with other scientific research departments or projects launched in the South China Sea, Chen noted.
The grid host machine on Yongxing Island can collect and monitor load data from diesel generators, the photovoltaic system and seawater desalination as well as charging piles, China News Service reported.
"The microgrid on Yongxing Island is only the start," Fu Yongfeng, deputy head of Hainan power grid branch under China Southern Power Grid, told CCTV. "We'll copy the model on the other islands."
"In the meantime, we will explore wave-powered electricity and refrigeration techniques by usage of residual heat."