India and UK launch transnational network of solar power grids

OSOWOG logo. Credit: Green Grids Initiative

The Green Grids Initiative has been launched at COP26 in Glasgow to accelerate the construction of the new infrastructure needed for a world powered by clean energy.

The initiative will see the International Solar Alliance (ISA), India Presidency of the ISA, and the UK COP Presidency partner on what is hailed as the first transnational network of solar power grids.

The project, spearheaded by the Governments of India & the UK, and implemented by ISA, in partnership with the World Bank Group, aims to harness solar energy wherever the sun is shining, ensuring that generated electricity flows to areas that need it most.

Furthermore, infrastructure will be developed to massively expand renewable energy generation capacity in energy-rich locations, connected by continental grids.

The plan 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’ – is intended to bring together governments, legislators, businesses and researchers to address this infrastructure challenge.

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It 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.

The launch was accompanied with a ‘One Sun Declaration’ stated to be endorsed by more than 80 countries so far.

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 for the Green Grids Initiative is being provided by the Climate Compatible Growth consortium of universities, which includes Cambridge, Imperial College, Oxford and University College London.

The Green Grids Initiative was first developed by the Climate Parliament, an international network of climate legislators.

“By combining rooftop solar with desert solar power stations, plus offshore wind farms and hydropower, we can easily generate more than enough renewable energy to power the world. But only if we build the right grids,” said Nicholas Dunlop, Secretary-General of the Climate Parliament.

“Thanks to the UK COP26 Presidency taking up the project, and Prime Minister Modi’s personal interest, we’ve begun to assemble a powerful coalition which could get those grids and power stations built faster than ever.”

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