One Sun, One World, One Grid (OSOWOG)

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    Context 

    • India and the UK are likely to announce a joint declaration on “One Sun, One World, One grid” (OSOWOG) at the upcoming COP26.
      • The UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26, is scheduled to be held between October 31 and November 12 in Scotland.

    About 

    • Both countries have been working towards achieving this concept and the declaration will be made by India and the UK, other countries will also participate, including the ASEAN nations, the US, EU and African nations.
      • The climate parliament secretariat is handling details of the proposal and more than 100 energy ministers from across the world will sign the proposal.

    One Sun, One World, One grid (OSOWOG)

    • The concept was first floated by the Prime Minister of India in 2018 during the first assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
    • It is a transnational solar power grid that will be projected as a game-changer to help meet climate change goals by supplying solar power across the globe.
    • Purpose: It can generate round the clock electricity from the sun as it sets in one part of the world but rises in another part. The sun never sets for the entire earth.
    • Features: According to the draft plan of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), the ambitious OSOWOG will connect 140 countries through a common grid that will be used to transfer solar power.
      • The blueprint for the OSOWOG will be developed under the World Bank’s technical assistance programme that is implemented to accelerate the deployment of grid-connected rooftop solar installations.
    • Three Phases of Plan: The first phase will entail interconnectivity within the Asian continent; the second phase will add Africa and the third phase will globalize the whole project.

    Need and Significance

    •  Asset utilization for all the participating entities: India can generate round the clock electricity from the sun with the help of OSOWOG.
      • The proposed integration would lead to reduced project costs, higher efficiencies and increased 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.
    • Growth of India: It will allow national renewable energy management centres in India to grow as regional and global management centres.
      • Several African nations are devoid of reliable electricity supply and that makes them a ready market for electricity infrastructure.
    •  Economic benefits: This will have economic benefits that would positively impact poverty alleviation and support in mitigating water, sanitation, food and other socio-economic challenges.
    • Counter to China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI): This is seen as India’s counter to China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) which is primarily an economic diplomacy strategy to boost its domestic economy by improving connectivity and cooperation among the current 78 partner countries.

    Drawbacks of OSOWOG

    • Geopolitics: The project is seen as an Indian endeavour for world leadership. But under COVID-19 uncertainties, the geopolitical implications of the project are hard to decipher. 
    • Expensive: The mechanism of cost-sharing will be challenging, given the varied priorities of participating countries depending on their socio-economic orders.
      • It might turn out to be an expensive, complex and very slow progress project.
    • Against Self Reliant Policy: The project also contradicts the Prime Minister’s Atma Nirbhar Bharat (self-dependent India) vision, as it extends the reliance for a major strategic entity i.e. energy supply to other countries through this grid.
    • Distribution Issue: There is a difference in voltage, frequency and specifications of the grid in most regions. Maintaining grid stability with just renewable generation would be technically difficult.
      • Supply of energy through this grid, in a time zone with a six-hour difference, will require thousands of kilometres of transmission of the electricity, which will add up a huge cost and energy losses.
    •  Competition: Australia-based Sun Cable is also developing the Australian-ASEAN Power Link (AAPL) under which it will supply renewable electricity from Australia to Singapore and later to Indonesia.

    Way Forward 

    • China has already launched a global transmission grid project under the aegis of the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization, dedicated to promoting the sustainable development of energy worldwide. China also has expertise in ultra high voltage network construction.
    • In the backdrop of all the above conditions, it is important for India to re-look its targets and to focus on developing long-term and complete solutions that can reach the masses
    • India has taken small steps with the ISA, but still, a lot needs to be done through OSOWOG.
    • India will need a strong coalition of international partners to realise this vision.

    Source: IE