Green grids: Speeding towards clean energy - GulfToday

Green grids: Speeding towards clean energy

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Solar

Representational image.

India and Britain introduced a plan last week to improve connections between the world’s electricity power grids to accelerate the transition to greener energy.

Linking the grids would allow parts of the world with excess renewable power to send it to areas with deficits. For instance, countries where the sun has set could draw power from others still able to generate solar electricity.

The ‘Green Grids Initiative’ launched at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, was backed by more than 80 countries and could set a model for how rich countries help poorer ones to reduce their emissions and meet the goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial norms, as reported by Reuters.

The initiative aims to accelerate the construction of the new infrastructure needed for a world powered by clean energy. Such infrastructure includes massively expanded renewable energy generation capacity in energy-rich locations, connected by continental grids.

It includes smart grids connecting millions of solar panels and charging points for electric vehicles, and microgrids for rural communities and to ensure resilience during extreme weather events.

The initiative — its full title the ‘Green Grids Initiative — One Sun One World One Grid’ was launched by prime ministers Boris Johnson of the UK and Narendra Modi of India, with the latter having coined the phrase ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ with the proposal to create an inter-continental grid on the premise that the sun is present at some geographical location at all times of the day.

“If the world has to move to a clean and green future, these interconnected transnational grids are going to be critical solutions,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement.

The official announcement of the trans-national grid plan did not include cost figures or funding details. PM Modi and British PM Boris Johnson had previously outlined the plan. Earlier, PM Modi had declared that India would reach net zero carbon emissions by 2070, two decades later than scientists say is needed. Experts have said that the grids plan showed PM Modi willing to move the world’s second-most populous nation away from fossil fuels as long as developed countries help.

Among the first actions, a ministerial steering group will lead a process to accelerate the construction of large solar power stations and windfarms in the best locations, linked together by continental-scale grids crossing national borders. Participants include France, India, UK ad USA, with representatives to come from Africa, the Gulf, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Working groups made up of national and international agencies have already been established for Africa and the Asia Pacific region. The Africa Working Group is co-convened by the African Development Bank and the African Union, while the Asia-Pacific group is coordinated by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

The Green Climate Fund, established to channel part of the $100 billion a year pledged by rich countries in the climate negotiations, is leading a finance working group. Research support is being provided by the Climate Compatible Growth consortium of universities.

The Green Grids Initiative was first developed by the Climate Parliament, an international network of climate legislators. It aims to accelerate the construction of the new infrastructure needed for a world powered by clean energy. The plan is part of a broader attempt to speed up the roll out of affordable low-carbon technology, covering more than 70% of the global economy.

The Initiative’s website summarizes the efforts, “There is more than enough clean energy to power the world economy, if we build the right grids. A tiny fraction of the world’s deserts, the equivalent of a square 400 km x 400 km (250 miles x 250 miles), covered with solar power stations, could produce all the electricity the world uses today.

Wind power has similar potential. Existing hydro dams, together with batteries, can help to balance fluctuations in wind and sun. To ensure a reliable supply of affordable, clean energy, new long-distance grids are needed to connect the most energy-rich locations, crossing borders and time zones.

Meanwhile, mini-grids can help communities to harness their local energy resources, bringing electricity to off-grid villages, and ensuring a more resilient supply during the heat waves, storms and floods that are now striking all parts of the planet.”

Announcing the first five goals of the plan, dubbed the ‘Glasgow Breakthroughs’, PM Johnson flagged targets to push clean power, zero emissions autos, near-zero emission steel, low-carbon hydrogen and climate-resilient agriculture.

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