Green Grids Initiative

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    • Recently, India, in partnership with the United Kingdom, announced the Green Grids InitiativeOne Sun, One World, One Grid (GGI-OSOWOG).

    More about the initiative

    • Declaration and recognition:
      • The “Green Grids Initiative” was announced at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland.
        • More than 80 countries backed it.
      • The announcement was accompanied by the “One Sun Declaration”, which stated that, “realising the vision of ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ through interconnected green grids can be transformational.
    • Origin: 
      • The concept of a single global grid for solar was first outlined at the First Assembly of the ISA in late 2018. 
    • Aim: 
      • It envisions building and scaling inter-regional energy grids to share solar energy across the globe, leveraging the differences of time zones, seasons, resources, and prices between countries and regions. 
    • Implementation:
      • This project aspires to harness the sun’s energy and build a global interconnected electricity grid to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. 
      • The development of the grids will take place in three stages:
        • The interconnection of the Indian grids with the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asian (MESASEA) grids
        • MESASEA grids’ interconnection with the African power grid
        • Finally, global interconnectivity
      • The initiative is expected to connect more than 80 countries across a large geographical area, with varying levels of sunlight. A transitional system will enable countries with low levels of sunlight to obtain energy from areas with an excess of it.
    • Green Grids Initiative Working Groups: 
      • It has been made up of national and international agencies that have already been established for Africa and for the Asia-Pacific region. 
      • Their membership includes most major multilateral development banks, such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

    Significance:

    • Using unlimited energy potential: 
      • In one hour, the earth’s atmosphere receives enough sunlight to power the electricity needed by every human being on earth for a year. 
      • This unlimited energy is completely clean and sustainable. 
    • Climate Change resilient: 
      • Being a thermal energy-dependent country, India faces severe electricity shortages in many areas due to heatwaves (when demand increases) and coal shortages. 
      • GGI can transform the traditional energy system by replacing thermal power plants with solar energy, making India more resilient against extreme weather conditions and less dependent on fossil fuels.
    • Decarbonization: 
      • It will also help decarbonise energy production, which is today the largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Storage: 
      • It will reduce the need for storage and increase the viability of solar projects. 
    • New avenues: 
      • It will not only reduce carbon footprint and cost of energy but open up new avenues for cooperation between different regions and different countries.
    • Rural community:
      • The implementation of GGI can enhance the quality of life of rural communities in many other areas like access to electronic gadgets, clean drinking water, among others.
    • Setting an example:
      • It 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 above pre-industrial norms.
      • India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal already share transmission capacity for energy transfer across borders which can be expanded further and utilised for the transfer of solar power between these countries.

    Challenges:

    • Efficiency of Existing solar infrastructure: 
      • A majority of the solar energy infrastructure is located in desert regions, which brings dust deposits on panels. 
        • A layer of dust decreases solar power conversion efficiency by 40 percent.
      • Its documentation does not comment on improving the efficiency of the existing solar energy infrastructure in the country. 
    • Cost-effectiveness:
      • Environmental cost:
        • There are hidden environmental costs of setting up solar energy infrastructure. 
        • Solar energy technologies such as batteries and panels use energy-intensive raw materials and several chemicals and heavy metals that need to be handled and disposed of correctly. 
      • Capital investment:
        • Power transmission across vast distances would require large capital investment to set up long transmission lines. 
        • Experts have pointed out that transmission across great distances can potentially be very expensive. 
    • E-waste and industrial discharge:
      • The initiative also does not define strategies to recycle and repurpose existing infrastructure, which can be an exciting avenue to view through the circular economy lens.
      • Since 2011, solar power capacity worldwide has been growing by 70 gigawatts per year
      • Solar panels generally have a lifespan of 25 years, after which they have to be retired since they lose their efficiency. 
      • According to these trends, it is estimated that 28 million panels will have to be decommissioned every year, starting 2026. 
      • Most of these panels will be disposed of in landfills, drawing severe environmental repercussions
      • Therefore, developing a system that encourages the repair, reuse and recycling of existing solar panels is essential. 

    Way ahead

    • Before GGI is implemented, a lot of factors need to be reconsidered. 
      • Environmental costs of solar power, 
      • efficiency issues, 
      • energy losses due to conversion and transfer, and 
      • The problem of waste management 
    • These are the barriers that need to be addressed urgently by the implementing bodies.
    • Implementation in India:
      • There have been no indications of country-specific plans for India to enable a smooth transition from traditional energy systems to solar energy and improve energy conversion efficiency. 
      • To make the initiative a success in India, there needs to be a careful consideration of the initiative’s costs and benefits. 
      • Its modifications need to be planned in ways that suit the country’s requirements and resource capabilities. 

    Source: DTE