Green Grids Initiative: One Sun, One World, One Grid

The One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) is an initiative to introduce a transnational electricity grid that supplies power worldwide. The idea for this initiative was first proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) 2018. The Green Grids initiative (GGI) was launched by the United Kingdom (UK). This initiative intends to create a framework for international collaboration on the optimal use of renewable resources to ensure that clean and efficient energy is a reliable alternative for all countries to meet their energy requirements by 2030. At the Conference of Parties (COP-26) climate summit held in Glasgow in 2021, both the initiatives were launched together by India and UK as a part of bilateral cooperation in partnership with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the World Bank Group (WB). As both initiatives focused on the transition to renewable energy at a global level, they merged and became a single initiative for a common purpose called the GGI-OSOWOG. 

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Timeline of OSOWOG initiative over the years till now;
Source: International Solar Alliance (ISA); isolaralliance.org/work/osowog/

 

Aim and Objectives 

OSOWOG aims to provide power to about 140 countries through a common grid that will ensure the transfer of clean and efficient solar power. This will, in a way, create a global system that will allow clean energy to be distributed anywhere, at any time (the power generated in one part of the world where there is daytime can be transmitted and used in other parts of the world where there is night time). By 2030, ISA hopes to raise $ 1 Tn in finance to help developing nations build their solar power infrastructure to meet their energy demands.

The use of fossil fuels aided the industrialisation and development of numerous nations but at the expense of the planet's ecosystem. The OSOWOG initiative will, in a way, use renewable energy, that is, solar energy and help in the generation of power all over the world. This initiative will help in three transitions: 

  • Switch of energy production from fossil fuel to clean energy 
  • Switch of energy allocation from local balance to cross-border and global distribution 
  • Switch of energy consumption from coal, oil and gas to electric-centric consumption 

Why is OSOWOG important?

Climate change is a cause of concern not only in India but across the globe. A significant portion of the pollution produced by various non-renewable methods of power production can be ascribed to the rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions that are hastening global warming. Extreme weather changes, increase in temperature, floods, and droughts are frequent occurrences. This is not only causing the problem in a particular area or country but is affecting the globe. For example, deforestation in Amazon rainforests affects Brazil's ecosystem and increases carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, increasing global temperature. At this point, renewable energy and such initiatives become the need of the hour. A report by Ernst & Young (EY) claims that due to coordinated effort, India is currently positioned third in the Renewable Energy Country Attractive Index for 2021. The following figure explains the steps taken toward forming this common grid. 

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This will develop a common grid to increase cooperation and relation between the nations and reduce reliance on non-renewable resources. Non-renewable energy will deplete over time and get expensive due to a lack of availability and increasing transportation costs. This will hurt the economy as export can often be affected by war, conflict, lack of cooperation or extreme conditions. Thus, an increase in dependence on renewable energy is essential that will also prevent climate change. So, investing in this is beneficial as renewable energy is abundant. This will enable the creation of a single renewable energy power grid that all countries will access.

What will nations gain through OSOWOG? 

  • This will enable increased access to energy on a large scale. It will not only be an investment towards low-carbon emissions due to a decrease in usage of fossil fuel and other non-renewable energy but will also include cheaper living expenses and better livelihoods
  • This will also reduce storage needs and enhance the viability of solar projects. Countries like India, near the equator, mostly witness the sun every day. This initiative will make total usage of solar energy, which is efficient, clean, and cost-effective and will never deplete
  • It will also open a new avenue for cooperation between different countries and regions as it includes nations all over the world
  • It will enable countries to meet the Paris Agreement target to prevent climate change by transitioning to renewable energy. This will also lead to sustainable development
  • It will give low-carbon solar projects momentum and bring together skilled workers and new technology for a solar-powered economic recovery. Additionally, it can spur economic growth and provide millions of new green employment
  • This would enable a quicker transition to an integrated global ecosystem of renewable energy sources that are shared for everyone's benefit and long-term sustainability

Recently, India withdrew from its goal of developing 500 Gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy capacity by 2030. This was done to establish flexibility in obtaining the target. It now wishes to obtain 50 per cent of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by that time. Suppose extra demand cannot be satisfied by green fuels, India's choices open for new coal-based power plants in the estimated 820 GW overall capacity. The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are the central component of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which nations must provide and evaluate regularly. India's NDCs relating to clean energy and emission reduction were also updated. It proposes generating 50 per cent of the total installed capacity of electric power from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, which would reduce the GDP's emissions intensity by 45 per cent. 

India has enormous solar energy potential. India produces around 5,000 Tn kilowatt hour(kWh) per year of energy, and solar photovoltaic (PV) power is effectively harnessed. Solar enables power generation on a distributed basis and has an advantage for rural and urban electrification. The solar energy sector supports the government's aim for sustainable growth, which is also emerging as a critical component of the nation's energy demands and security strategy. Solar is the most secure energy source from a security of supply standpoint because it is widely accessible. The total amount of incident solar energy might theoretically be used to generate enough electricity to power the entire nation if it were to be captured efficiently.

The Government of India has introduced several programmes to promote the production of solar power in the nation to meet the goal mentioned above, including the Solar Park program, Viability Gap Funding (VGF) programs, Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) program, Defence Program, Canal Bank and Canal Top program, Bundling Program, and Grid Connected Solar Rooftop Program. In the framework of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Programme, the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme in high-efficiency solar PV modules for improving India's manufacturing capabilities and exports has received approval from the Union Cabinet presided over by PM Narendra Modi.  Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat are the top five states in India that have solar power parks installed and produce 7100-5000 megawatt (MW) of energy. 

Between March 2014 and July 2019, solar power capacity expanded more than 11 times, from 2.6 GW to 30 GW. This has further increased the potential of solar energy and attracted colossal investment opportunities for the future. Until now, India has been working on developing ultra-mega solar power projects, grid-connected solar power projects such as in Andaman and Nicobar, Lakshadweep, and Grid Connected Solar Rooftop Programme. Future renewable-based energy systems worldwide will depend on this step since it will allow for sharing and balancing renewable energy across international borders. Additionally, it will make it possible to quickly seize opportunities to learn lessons from global events and share renewable energy sources to lower the world's carbon footprint and protect societies from pandemics. Completing this project would strengthen India's status as the world leader in the ISA and support the Indian economy.

This blog has been co-authored by Bhakti Jain and Ishita Dhar.