The city of Zhuhai, Guangdong Province is known for its proximity to the Macau Special Administrative Region, much like Shenzhen is positioned relative to Hong Kong. Like Shenzhen, Zhuhai is also a site of many innovative economic experiments and reforms, most recently with the government announcing plans to implement pilot projects geared at buy-side reforms to its electricity system. The city will explore ways to employ efficient business models, giving local enterprises in several designated special economic zones more autonomy in managing grids and utilities. Projects in Hengqin New Area and Xibu Ecological Zone will give enterprises the right to operate smart microgids and sell their own electricity. Additionally the city has plans to use thermal energy generated in Hengqin to provide electricity for Doumen New Green Industrial Park, while East Jinwan District will rely on natural gas distributed generation to power smart girds. Based on market conditions, the city also plans to incrementally invest in electric services industries.
The city government will grant enterprises located in these advanced technology parks and economic zones the authority to manage microgrids and provide their own water, gas, and heating. Electricity generating enterprises can create their own marketing bodies within a defined scope, which can, over time, begin to resemble the structure of electric utility companies possessing rights to operate the grid. It is important to note, however, that these pilot enterprises, are limited in scope at the discretion of the governing body and are not permitted to establish “multi-layered bodies” to sell electricity in the marketplace.
Total implementation of a buy-side distributed generation market appears to be quickly accelerating towards Doumen District and the distributed energy projects in Jinwan District. The pilot projects implemented will encourage industrial parks, commercial zones, and other newly created districts to implement natural gas distributed energy systems, and even in some other applicable cases, encourage distributed PV generation networks. Allowing distributed generation to enter the grid will encourage specialized energy providers to work with consumers ushering in a new model of “cooperative energy management.”