India has taken a momentous stride toward realizing its ambitious One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) mission, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Saudi Arabia on October 8.
The agreement is set to establish international grid connectivity, facilitate knowledge and technology exchange in green hydrogen, and nurture a supply chain for expanding renewable energy. Notably, this collaboration between two significant players in the global energy arena is expected to deepen their energy partnership and catalyze joint development in renewable energy, energy efficiency, hydrogen technology, and grid interconnections.
Enhancing Energy Cooperation:
This landmark agreement between India and Saudi Arabia is poised to bolster energy cooperation. Anish Mandal, Partner at Deloitte India, highlights the significance of the deal in establishing electricity interconnection between the two nations. This interconnection paves the way for seamless electricity exchange, especially during peak demand periods and emergencies, contributing to energy security and reliability.
Moreover, the agreement could foster increased Saudi Arabian investments in Indian renewable energy, green hydrogen, and related sectors. However, it’s important to note that the feasibility and economic viability of electricity connectivity remain subject to scrutiny.
India’s Soaring Power Demand:
The context for this collaboration is India’s escalating power demand. The Indian government initially projected a peak power demand of 230 gigawatts (GW) for the fiscal year 2023-24. Yet, actual demand surpassed expectations, reaching an unprecedented 240 GW, with a peak deficit of 10.74 GW. Looking ahead to 2024-25, the government anticipates a peak demand of 256.53 GW, reflecting an annual growth rate of about 6 percent, as per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).
India’s vision to generate 500 GW from renewable energy sources by 2030, a substantial increase from the current 171 GW, requires addressing the intermittent nature of renewables. This pressing issue demands innovative solutions, and international grid connections offer a promising answer.
The OSOWOG Mission:
The One Sun One World One Grid (OSOWOG) mission, launched jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the COP26 Climate Meet in Glasgow on November 2, 2021, aims to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs. This initiative seeks to establish a global grid for transmitting clean energy worldwide, ensuring energy availability at all times and minimizing the need for extensive energy storage. It was Modi who first proposed this vision at the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Assembly in October 2018.
Transnational grid connectivity aligns with the global focus on energy security, offering long-term strategies in times of geopolitical uncertainty. Amid ongoing conflicts, such as the Ukraine-Russia war, countries are increasingly prioritizing energy security and seeking sustainable solutions.
Grid Connectivity Between India and Saudi Arabia:
While the MoU does not delve into the specifics of grid connectivity, it outlines the formation of a Joint Working Group (JWG). This group, co-chaired by a senior official from the Indian Ministry of Power and a deputy minister from the Saudi energy ministry, is tasked with conducting feasibility studies encompassing technical, economic, and environmental aspects of interconnection between the two nations.
Preliminary plans suggest linking the Indian power grid with those of Saudi Arabia and the UAE through subsea cables from India’s west coast. This alignment of resources promises to be a transformative step in realizing OSOWOG’s global vision.
Current Transnational Grid Connectivity:
India currently maintains grid connections with neighboring countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Myanmar, with a cumulative capacity of 4,433 MW. Notably, India’s most substantial transnational connection is with Bhutan, boasting a capacity of 2,070 MW. It is followed by the India-Nepal grid, with a capacity of 1,200 MW, and the India-Bangladesh grid, with 1,160 MW. India’s connection with Myanmar is more modest, with a capacity of 3 MW.
Future Grid Connectivity Plans:
India is actively pursuing grid connectivity with other nations. Discussions are already underway with the Maldives to facilitate renewable energy exchange. The India-Sri Lanka power line project, which is at an advanced stage of discussion, aims to exchange 500 MW of power between the two countries. A detailed project report is currently under review.
Furthermore, India is exploring the expansion of its existing grid connections with Myanmar and is looking to extend these connections to Thailand. Plans to connect with the power grid of Singapore are also in the pipeline. India is also engaging in discussions with Singapore to integrate with the ASEAN grid.
India’s ambitious goal includes connecting with the UAE for grid connectivity, envisioning inter-continental power exchange and extending links to Europe via the Middle East. A task force established by the Ministry of Power is diligently examining the feasibility of interconnecting regional grids across Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, with the aim of sharing renewable energy resources.