- 20 Jan 2021
"One Sun One World One Grid is an initiative by India which intends to take another leap towards developing a global ecosystem to replicate its global solar leadership by encouraging the phased development towards a single, globally-connected, electricity grid to share the mutual benefits and global sustainability."
Solar power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. Solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, and India has some of the richest solar resources in the world. India has 3 of the biggest solar power plants in the world.
Solar Power in India
With about 300 clear and sunny days in a year, the computed solar energy measure on India's land area is about 5000 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. The solar energy accessible in a single year exceeds the possible energy output of all of the fossil fuel energy reserves in India.
Image source- 2 Indian regions contributing solar power/ wikipedia
India already has ambitious targets of attaining renewable energy that it will generate more than 175GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and decrease emissions by 33 to 35 per cent by 2030.
What is One Sun One World One Grid?
The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) has started the process to engage a consulting firm for developing a long-term vision, implementation plan, road map and institutional framework for implementing the 'One Sun One World One Grid' plan. India currently pays $US250 billion for fossil fuel imports a year (oil, diesel, LPG, coking and thermal coal).
One Sun, One World would put the country on a path to leverage domestic energy resources and progressively amplify world competitive sustainable renewable energy exports, enhancing the current account deficit and reducing imported inflation.
Image source- 3 Prime minister narendera Modi with the president of France Francois Hollande/ Rediff
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, and the President of France François Hollande, mutually laid the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Headquarters and inaugurated the interim Secretariat of the ISA in National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Gurugram on 25 January 2016.
What are the challenges with solar energy?
Solar energy is a clean energy which does not affect the environment and it is considered one of the best sources of natural energy to ensure sustainable development but there are few obstacles which need to be looked after for optimal utilization of solar energy.
Solar energy is an intermittent energy source There are three main reasons why solar is considered an intermittent source of power:
• The sun doesn't shine at night, Therefore, solar panels can't generate power at night.
• The intensity of the sun varies based on the location, the time of year, and the time of day.
• Cloud, snow, and foliage cover can have a significant effect on the amount of energy produced by solar panels.
All of these factors have been used to argue that solar power cannot be relied on for baseload or mission-critical applications.
However, this is improving with the emergence of cost-effective battery solutions. Batteries allow users to store their solar power and draw energy from the battery when their solar panels aren’t producing energy.
Solar energy is diluted
Solar energy is not concentrated in one place, therefore, panels require space. For residential installations, a roof will almost always have enough space. However, when you look at large grid-scale solar installations, space can be a bit of an issue.
This is because solar panels have a lower power density. Power density is how much power can be derived from an energy source within a certain area, measured in watts per square meter (W/m2). The power density of solar panels is low compared to those of fossil fuels.
Image source- 4 Indiatoday.com
To tackle all these obstacles, India came up with one of the most ambitious schemes undertaken by any country and global significance in terms of sharing economic benefits.
The concept behind OSOWOG
The sunshine countries comprise all major countries which come either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. These sunshine countries receive ample sunshine and these countries can play a significant role in solar power generation.
Image source- 5 Wikipedia.com
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the initiative to form a group of 107 sunshine countries at the India Africa Summit and held a meeting among them before the conclave of 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris on November 30, 2015. He has minted a term for them as "Surya Putra," or "sons of the sun".
The alliance is also called International Agency for Solar Policy and Application (IASPA). The headquarters will be set up in India with an investment of an initial $30M.
Phases of OSOWOG
With India in the middle, the solar spectrum can easily be divided into two broad zones, which are:
• East region includes countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia etc.
• West region includes the Middle East and the Africa Region.
The One Sun One World One Grid would be a three-phased process.
In the first phase, the Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia would be interconnected. It deals with the Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia (MESASEA) interconnection.
• Nurturing cross-border energy trade is a vital part of India’s Neighbourhood-first policy.
• India has been supplying power to Bangladesh and Nepal and has been championing a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) electricity grid minus Pakistan to meet electricity demand in the region.
• The initial plans also include setting up an under-sea link to connect with Oman in the West.
Image source- 6 Youtube.com
In the second phase, solar and other renewable energy resources rich regions would be interconnected and it deals with the MESASEA grid getting interconnected with the African power pools.
Image source- 7 OSOWOG plan covering the parts of Middle East regions/ youtube
The third phase would strive for global interconnection of the power transmission grid to achieve the One Sun One World One Grid vision.
Significance of OSOWOG
An interconnected solar grid would help the participating entities by attracting investments in renewable energy sources and utilizing skills, technology and finances.
Resulting economic benefits would assuredly have a positive impact on poverty alleviation and support in mitigating water, sanitation, food and other socio-economic challenges.
Further, the proposed integration would lead to reduced project costs, higher efficiencies and elevated asset utilization for all the participating entities. It will 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, allows India to be seen as taking a lead in evolving global strategies.
“We have seen the world before Corona and the global systems in detail. Even after the infliction of the Corona crisis, we are constantly watching the situation unfolding across the globe. When we look at these two periods from India’s perspective, it seems that the 21st century is the century for India," Modi said.
China’s efforts to co-opt countries into its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, a programme to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, including railways, ports and power grids, across Asia, Africa and Europe.
Image source- 8 China's belt/wikipedia
OSOWOG will grant a strategic rebalance in favour of India and will control the rising Chinese dominance in the Asian subcontinent, presenting a better alternative to developing countries.