What did it take to turn the lights on in China: Part 2 of 2

December 16, 2015

To understand what China has accomplished since 1979 when it was ranked seventh among the world’s electricity producers instead of first, it helps to discover the time it took for America’s electrical grid to be built.

In America, Thomas Edison designed and built the first direct current (DC) power plant in 1882.

Then the first alternating current (AC) power plant opened in 1885 and transmitted power 200 miles from the plant.

By 1927, forty-five years later, the first power grid was established in Pennsylvania.

However, it wasn’t until 1933 that Congress passed legislation establishing the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Then in 1935, FDR issued an executive order to create the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to bring electricity to millions of rural Americans.

It took six years after the REA was launched in 1941 to help 800 rural electric cooperatives to string 350,000 miles of power lines.

What took the U.S. 130 years to build starting in 1885, China did in the last 50 years. The biggest difference between modern China and America is the size of the population to supply electricity to. America has a population of more than 321.9 million, but China has about 1.38 billion people—a daunting task.

China vs US for electricity Production

In addition, just in case you think electricity was invented in the U.S. by Benjamin Franklin, think again. The English scientist William Gilbert (1544 – 1603) is called the father of modern electric power. Then Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745 – 1827) discovered that particular chemical reactions could produce electricity. There were others who contributed, of course, and some were Americans. – Who Discovered Electricity

Return to or start with Part 1


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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China’s Goal to Clean Dirty Coal

June 15, 2010

Bill Chameides writes in the Huffington Post about China’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses by 40 to 45 percent by 2020.  His goes into detail how the Chinese plan to accomplish this.

Since 70% of China’s electricity comes from thousands of coal burning power plants,  Chameides expresses doubts that China will be able to meet these lofty goals.  However, I disagree.  When you discover the downside of China’s coal burning power plants, it is obvious there is no choice but to clean up.

China’s one-party system has demonstrated the ability to get things done quickly and mistakes are made but so are course corrections.  I witnessed China’s ability to get things done in Shanghai. We were staying in what was once the French concession. The stately mansions that had housed wealthy French families and servants had been converted to communal multi-family homes still surrounded by tall walls.  When we went to sleep, the walls were there. In the morning, they were gone. 

An army of workers arrived at night, took down the walls and trucked out the debris without making enough noise to wake people.

Although I disagree with Chameides conclusion, his piece is worth reading.

See Electricity is the Key


Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning My Splendid Concubine and writes The Soulful Veteran and Crazy Normal.

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Electricity is the Key

May 8, 2010

For rural Chinese, electricity is the key to a modern middle-class lifestyle.  Currently, much of China outside the urban areas does not have a dependable supply of electricity.

However, China is currently working to deliver that dream to the 800 million have-nots in rural China. According to The Economist, by 2012, China should produce more power annually than America, the current world leader.

Electrical Generation Projections for China

I have read about the wide gap in living standards between rural and urban areas of China.  The main reason for that is the lack of electricity and a fast, efficient means of transportation to get around in a country with more rugged terrain than the United States.

To improve transportation in China, a grid of electrical powered high-speed rail will soon crisscross China.  China Railways operates a network of some 86,000 kilometers, which is intended to increase to 110,000 in 2012 and a massive 120,000 by 2020.

Learn more of the urban-rural gap in China


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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