Daily News Analysis

One Sun One World One Grid

9th October, 2021 Economy

Figure 3: No Copyright Infringement Intended

Context

  • India and the UK are likely to announce a joint declaration on “one sun, one world, one grid” — or OSOWOGat the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP26).
  • One Sun, One World, One Grid (OSOWOG) Project The UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26, is scheduled to be held between 31st October and 12th Novemberin Scotland.
  • The concept of OSOWOG is what the British have called a green grid.
  • The idea behind the concept is a trans-national electricity grid supplying solar power across the globe

About the Grid

  • The vision behind the OSOWOGis ‘The Sun Never Sets’ and is a constant at some geographical location, globally, at any given point of time.
  • This is by far one of the most ambitious schemes undertaken by any country(India) and is of global significance in terms of sharing economic benefits.
  • It has been taken up under the technical assistance program of the World Bank.
  • The OSOWOG plan may also leverage the International Solar Alliance (ISA), co-founded by India that has 80 countries as members.
  • With India in the middle, the solar spectrum can easily be divided into two broad zones, which are: Far East including countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia etc. Far West covering the Middle East and the Africa Region.
  • Three Phases of the Plan:
    • First Phase: It will entail interconnectivity within the Asian continent.
    • Second Phase: It will add Africa.
    • Third Phase: It is about global interconnection.

Significance of the Project

  • Help all the participating entities in attracting investments in renewable energy sources as well as utilizing skills, technology and finances.
  • Lead to reduced project costs, higher efficiencies and increased asset utilization for all the participating entities.
  • Resulting economic benefits would positively impact poverty alleviation and support in mitigating water, sanitation, food and other socio-economic challenges.
  • Allow national renewable energy management centres in India to grow as regional and global management centres.
  • This move, during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, gives India the opportunity to be seen as taking a lead in evolving global strategies.

Issues with the Project

Geopolitics:

  • The project is seen as an Indian endeavour for world leadership but under Covid-19 uncertainties, the geopolitical implications of projects like OSOWOG are hard to decipher.
  • The mechanism of cost-sharing will be challenging, given the varied priorities of participating countries depending on their socio-economic orders.
  • Globalisation vs De-Globalisation: The OSOWOG will turn out to be an expensive, complex and very slow progress project.
  • The strategic benefits, if any, of having a single grid will be obliterated in the wake of any geopolitical problem.
  • In India, the major issue of renewable energy developers is to deal with different state governments and hence, different laws and regulations.
  • Further, the project also contradicts the Prime Minister’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-dependent India) vision, as it extends the reliance for a major strategic entity, energy supply, to other countries through this grid.

Centralised vs Distributed Generation:

  • There is a difference in voltage, frequency and specifications of the grid in most regions.
  • Maintaining grid stability with just renewable generation would be technically difficult.

 

Way Forward

  • The move is the key to future renewable-based energy systems globally because regional and international interconnected green grids can enable sharing and balancing of renewable energy across international borders.
  • It allows grabbing opportunities to learn quickly from global developments and share renewable energy resources to reduce the global carbon footprint and insulate the societies from pandemics.
  • Institution building is key to fulfilling the ambitions of a multi-country grid project. In this context, ISA (International Solar Alliance) can act as an independent supranational institution to take decisions about how the grid should be run and conflicts settled.