india-co-opts-solar-grid-to-fend-off-obors-shadow-summary

Context: India has recently invited bids from consultants to make an ambitious cross-border power grid plan that would seek to transfer solar power generated in one region to feed the electricity demands of others.

More on the news:

  • A request for proposals (RFP) is prepared by India’s ministry of new and renewable energy for the same.
  • The RFP invites consultants to develop a long-term roadmap for the ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSOWOG). It comprises both technical and financial proposals. 
  • The ministry of new and renewable energy has called a pre-bid meeting with the interested consultants on 5 June.

About One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG)

  • The idea and vision behind it
    • India’s Prime Minister has recently called for connecting solar energy supply across borders, with the mantra of ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSOWOG). 
    • The vision behind the OSOWOG mantra is ‘The Sun Never Sets’ and is a constant at some geographical location, globally, at any given point of time’.
  • The move has become India’s calling card on climate change and is increasingly being viewed as a foreign policy tool.
  • India’s motive behind the initiative is to take another leap towards building a global ecosystem of interconnected renewable energy resources that are seamlessly shared for mutual benefits and global sustainability.
  • More about the grid:
    • The global grid may also leverage the International Solar Alliance (ISA) which is co-founded by India that has 67 countries as members. 
    • With India at the fulcrum, the solar spectrum can easily be divided into two broad zones, viz. 
      • Far East which would include countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc., and 
      • Far West which would cover the Middle East and the Africa Region.
  • Current progress
    • The ambitious task unveiled recently has been taken up under the technical assistance program of the World Bank 
      • As a part of this process, SUPRABHA a Technical Assistance (TA) program to accelerate the deployment of grid-connected rooftop solar installations in India was also commissioned.
    • The plan has been spread across three phases
      • Phase I (Middle East-South Asia-South East Asia (MESASEA) interconnection): Indian Grid interconnection with the Middle East, South Asia, and South-East Asian grids to share solar and other renewable energy resources for meeting electricity needs including peak demand.
      • Phase II (Solar and other Renewable Energy resources-rich regions’ interconnection): MESASEA grid getting interconnected with the African power pools to share solar and other renewable energy power of the countries located in solar and renewable energy-rich areas.
      • Phase III (Global interconnection): to achieve the One Sun One World One Grid vision.

Significance of India’s move:

  • The building of the new global grid comes against the backdrop of China’s attempt to co-opt countries into its ambitious One Belt One Road initiative(OBOR) and the withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate deal.
    • OBOR: The Belt and Road Initiative is a global development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 involving infrastructure development and investments in nearly 70 countries and international organizations.
  • The move also comes at a time of the COVID-19 pandemic giving India the opportunity to be seen as taking a lead in evolving global strategies.
  • Neighborhood first policy
  • Fostering cross-border energy trade is an important part of India’s South Asia-focused neighborhood-first policy. 
  • India has been currently supplying power to Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • India has also been championing a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation electricity grid minus Pakistan to meet electricity demand in the region.

 

About ISA

  • It is an Indian initiative that was launched by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France on 30th November 2015 in Paris, France on the side-lines of the Conference of the Parties (COP-21), with 121 solar resource-rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropic of Cancer and tropic of Capricorn as prospective members (Surya Putras)
    • UN member countries that are located beyond the Tropics can join the ISA as Partner Countries.  
    • The UN including its organs can join the ISA as Strategic Partners
    • Organizations that have the potential to help the ISA achieve its objectives, constituted by sovereign states at least one of which is a member of the ISA can join the ISA as a Partner Organization. 
  • The overarching objective of the ISA is to collectively address key common challenges to the scaling up of solar energy in ISA member countries.
  • The Government of India has allotted 5 acres of land to the ISA in the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) campus, Gurugram, and has released a sum of Rs. 160 crore for creating a corpus fund, building infrastructure, and meeting day to day recurring expenditure of the ISA up to the year 2021-22. 
  • Till now, 81 countries of the 121 prospective member countries have signed the Framework Agreement of the ISA. 
    • Of these, 58 countries have ratified the same.

 

Paris Agreement:

  • It is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance.
  • The agreement's language was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Le Bourget, near Paris, France, and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.
  • As of February 2020, all UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, 189 have become party to it, and the only significant emitters which are not parties are Iran and Turkey.
  • The Paris Agreement's long-term temperature goal is - 
    • To keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and 
    • To pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C, recognizing that this would substantially reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. 
  • This should be done by reducing emissions as soon as possible, in order to "achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases" in the second half of the 21st century. 
  • It also aims to increase the ability of parties to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, and make "finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development."

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