The world needs the energy to drive the economy. However, the energy from fossil fuels results in pollution. Also, it is not sustainable. There are a lot of discussions across the world about clean energy sources. Solar energy is considered a potential alternative to traditional energy sources.
Green Grids Initiative: One Sun One World One Grid (GGI – OSOWOG) – was recently launched by India and UK at COP26 meeting at Glasgow. It is an ambitious plan for the world’s first transnational network of interconnected solar power grids.
The idea for the One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) initiative was put forth by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri NarendraModi, at the First Assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in October 2018. He had called for connecting solar energy supply across borders.
Note: The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 100 countries initiated by India, most of them being the sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
GGI-OSOWOG: What is this Project?
The system will connect generators and search centres across continents with an international power grid. The concept of an international solar power grid is based on the idea that the sun never sets and that one segment of the earth is using energy generated at night during the day. Includes smart grids that connect millions of solar panels and chargers for electric vehicles, micro grids to rural communities and ensure durability during extreme weather events.
This work is led by the governments of India and the UK in partnership with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the World Bank Group. OSOWOG is scheduled to be completed in three phases. The first phase will involve communication between the Asian continents; phase two will add Africa and phase three will cover the entire project.
The system divides the solar spectrum into two broad areas with central India - the Far East and the Far West. The Far East grid passes through countries such as Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. The Far West grid passes through African and Middle Eastern regions.
What is the purpose of the project?
In countries with high renewable energy, the variability and frequency of generating energy based on renewable energy is a major concern. This often serves as a barrier to power development programs at the national level.
An important strategy for controlling the diversity of renewable energy sources is to distribute electricity supply to large areas by building regional and international grids.
At the same time, small grids can help communities use local energy resources, bring electricity to areas below the grid and ensure strong availability during periods of heat waves, storms, and floods now hitting all parts of the planet.
Geopolitical reasons: Several countries, including China, have embarked on infrastructure projects in other countries, a move seen as a sign of austerity. With ISA and OSOWOG India plans to take over the leadership position. It is also seen as India opposing China's Belt and Road initiative (BRI).
What is the purpose of GGI-OSOWOG?
It aims to promote the flow of green energy boundaries through a special network of large generators, spatial energy systems, storage, and transmission and distribution systems. OSOWOG has a vision to build and measure regional energy grids to share solar energy globally, utilizing the time zones, seasons, resources, and prices between countries and regions.
It will also help the production of decarbonise energy, which today is the world's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Ultimately, it will help reduce dependence on renewable energy such as coal by making affordable solar purchases abroad.
GGI-OSOWOG aims to achieve global grid connectivity through three key pillars:
- Political dialogue and building trust between countries is likely to be led by a leadership team of government officials including representatives from each region - Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, Latin America and India.
- Institutional collaboration between international financial and technical institutions that may lead to a joint co-ordinating committee comprising ISA and other partners such as the World Bank.
- Research and information sharing on the Green Powered Future mission, a newly launched international innovation program with peer-to-peer learning networks of administrators and grid users who may be introduced in the next phase.
Ministerial Steering Group of GGI-OSWOG
- A Ministerial Steering Group will be set up to supervise the making of large solar power stations and wind farms in the best locations, linked together by continental-scale grids crossing national borders.
- This Ministerial Steering Group includes Australia, France, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and will also have representatives from Africa, the Gulf, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.
Significance and strength of GGI-OSOWOG
- Recognizing the vision of the One Sun One World One Grid through the use of green grids can be a turning point.
- GGI-OSOWOG will not only reduce storage requirements but will also improve the performance of solar projects. This creative initiative will not only reduce carbon emissions and energy costs but also open up new avenues for cooperation between different countries and regions.
- This could enable countries to meet the terms of the Paris Agreement to prevent dangerous climate change.
- These efforts can encourage natural investment and may create millions of good jobs.
- The announcement was approved by 80 ISA member states.
- A single global grid will provide access to clean energy in all areas by reducing the need to conserve energy, as well as increasing the efficiency of solar projects.
- India aims to generate 40% of its energy from non-fossil fuels by 2030 which will be developed by the one sun one grid campaign.
- The proposed merger will result in a reduction in project costs, higher efficiency, and increased utilization of assets across all participating organizations.
- Integration with existing grids will make the system financially viable as it will only require a growing investment.
- It will attract investment in renewable energy sources and use of skills, technology, and finance.
- The additional benefits of this program will have a positive impact on poverty alleviation and reduction of water, sanitation, food, and other socio-economic challenges.
- India's renewable energy institutions can grow as regional and international institutions in the energy sector.
- According to estimates, about 2600 GW of global telecommunications power could be reached by 2050, saving an estimated energy of 226 billion euros a year.
- GGI—OSOWOG will bring more technical, financial and research cooperation to help facilitate cross-border renewable energy transfer projects, which will give OSOWOG its global infrastructure.
- GGI—OSOWOG will also create depth of organisational scale, spanning national governments, international financial and technical organisations, legislators, power system operators and knowledge leaders, to accelerate the construction of the new infrastructure needed for a world powered by clean energy.
- GGI—OSOWOG will enable a faster leap towards a global ecosystem of interconnected renewables that are shared for mutual benefit and global sustainability.
- GGI—OSOWOG will provide momentum, and a pool of investment towards low-carbon, innovative solar projects, and bring together skilled workers for a solar-powered economic recovery. It can also propel investment and create millions of new green jobs.
What are the challenges / problems with the GGI-OSOWOG project?
- Geopolitical Impact: Under the project, economies will share the same grid. Any disruption created as a result of any two / more international issues may affect critical services on many continents and countries. Thus, not many countries would be willing to participate.
- Defence period: In this era of defense, trade wars, and from multilaterism to bilateral and regional agreements, GGI-OSOWOG may face difficulties. The COVID epidemic also raised questions about the concept of globalization. Dealing with different governments and different market forces and thus different laws and regulations will be a challenging task.
- Transmission costs: The provision of power through this integrated grid, will require thousands of kilometres of power transmission. Transmission costs may therefore exceed the benefits of land and solar radiation.
- Grid stability: There are differences in voltage, frequency, and grid specification in most regions. Maintaining grid stability with renewable energy can be technically difficult. GGI-OSOWOG ignores solar radiation in all regions where transmission lines pass. Therefore, in remote regions, distributed production will be preferred rather than production in one area.
- Lack of Green Grid Level Networks in India: India currently has only local transmission lines to carry renewable energy to power stations. The only green power lines are those where electricity is generated from renewable sources for use in captivity or for sale by distributed renewable energy systems (DREs) to nearby customers. Green power grid network networks do not currently exist in the country.
- Institutional Funding: To build technical and business capacity for specialized green energy grids in the provinces and countries, it will be necessary to deploy essential resources only with renewable energy. But this may not be the wisdom of local and national governments with a financial crisis. This is where the institutional funding, both from philanthropists and international agencies, can be crucial.
- Battery infra: Dealing with the environment of renewable energy intervals with battery storage and construction due to extinguishing caused by adverse weather conditions will be important. However this will add to the cost of systems that require even greater trading volume in order to have a stable business model.
- Transmission of power to neighbouring borders: The first step for OSWOG would be the transfer of solar power between neighbouring countries. India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal have already shared energy transfer capabilities that can be further expanded and used for solar energy transfer between the two countries.