Virtual parliamentary roundtable on interconnections between India and the Arabian Peninsula
The Climate Parliament and Oxford Policy Management (OPM) co-organised the session on 23rd June with support from the Department for International Development of the UK (DFID). This high-level meeting included presentations from Upendra Tripathy, Director General of the International Solar Alliance, and Ahmed Al-Ebrahim, CEO of the Gulf Cooperation Council Interconnection Authority. Paddy Padmanathan, CEO of ACWA Power, Simon Trace and Ryan Hogarth from OPM, Colin Gourley from DFID and Mark Howells, Professor at Imperial College London and Loughborough University, also contributed their expertise to this discussion with a group of Indian parliamentarians.
Dr Tripathy presented the government of India’s new initiative, a partnership with the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in India (MNRE): One Sun, One World, One Grid (OSOWOG). He highlighted the potential routes that electricity highways could follow to link major industrial areas to the best locations for cheap, reliable and renewable energy in their regions. OSOWOG could significantly contribute to: minimise the cost of electricity, harmonise power distribution systems across the world, build commonly owned grids for mutual benefits and global sustainability, and provide energy security for all. OSOWOG will address the energy access gap through a global system of interconnected renewable energy resources, as the sun never sets for the entire Earth. Mr Al-Ebrahim outlined the potential for interconnections between the Gulf and the rest of the world, which will take advantage of the seasonal and daily complementarity between these regions. This will also allow the development of the regional electricity market, which would enable regional electricity trading worldwide.
Mr Padmanathan stressed that OSOWOG can increase economic productivity, as it will greatly lower the prices of energy internationally. He envisions that, within the next five years, we will see thousands of kilometers of interconnections, and OSOWOG’s infrastructure development will lead the way. Professor Howells described a research project being supported by DFID to model renewable energy trade between India and the Gulf.
Some of the key points raised by the parliamentarians touched on reliability and storage, as well as political tensions that could disrupt these interconnections. It was emphasised that, in many parts of the world, the sun shines strongly during the day and the winds blow during the night. This allows for the development of a grid that connects different resources, straddling the 24-hour cycle, resulting in a near-constant supply of clean energy.
Nicholas Dunlop, Secretary-General of the Climate Parliament, highlighted the potential for collaboration between the ISA and GCCIA. OSOWOG will be crucial to advance toward a net-zero carbon economy and raise billions of people out of poverty. Development is work, and work requires energy.