PM Modi Key To Ambitious Plan To Connect Green Power Grids

Launched at the COP26 climate talks in Scotland, the plan, dubbed the "Green Grids Initiative - One Sun One World One Grid", was backed by more than 80 countries, the British government said in a statement.

PM Modi Key To Ambitious Plan To Connect Green Power Grids

Britain's PM Boris Johnson and PM Modi attend a meeting during COP26 in Glasgow

London:

Britain and India launched a plan on Tuesday to improve connections between the world's electricity power grids to help accelerate the world's transition to greener energy.

Launched at the COP26 climate talks in Scotland, the plan, dubbed the "Green Grids Initiative - One Sun One World One Grid", was backed by more than 80 countries, the British government said in a statement.

The initiative aims to make renewable energy the most affordable and reliable option for all countries by 2030 and was an important contribution to the world's goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial norms.

Linking the grids would allow parts of the world with excess renewable power to send it to areas with deficits. For instance, countries where the sun has set could draw power from others still able to generate solar electricity.

"If the world has to move to a clean and green future, these interconnected transnational grids are going to be critical solutions," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement.

The plan forms a key part of a broader plan to speed up the roll out of affordable 'green' technology, covering more than 70 per cent of the global economy and the 'Breakthrough Agenda'.

Announcing the first five goals of the plan, dubbed the 'Glasgow Breakthroughs', British Prime Minister Boris Johnson flagged high-level targets to push clean power, zero emissions autos, near-zero emission steel, low-carbon hydrogen and climate-resilient agriculture.

"By making clean technology the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice, the default go-to in what are currently the most polluting sectors, we can cut emissions right around the world," Johnson said.

US independent energy expert Matthew Wald said the plan underscored how renewable energy sources need more transmission lines since they must often be built far from cities, unlike coal or gas-fired plants whose fuel can be shipped in.

But Wald said planners in various countries - including the former Soviet Union - have long dreamed of cheap transmission across time zones with limited progress. Although powerline technology has improved in recent years, Wald and others said the plan would require spending large sums.

"We're talking about transmission networks that will need to be undersea. They will need to cross mountain ranges. They'll need to cross deserts," said Kartikeya Singh, senior associate at Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The official announcement of the trans-national grid plan did not include cost figures or funding details.

On Monday, PM Modi had said India would reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2070, two decades later than scientists say is needed. Although seen as sceptical of efforts to slow climate change, PM Modi has still attended the conference, while leaders of other major emitters, including China and Russia, have not attended in person.

The grids plan showed PM Modi willing to move the world's second-most populous nation away from fossil fuels as long as developed countries help, said Julie Gorte, senior vice president for sustainable investing at Impax Asset Management.

"Left to their own devices, India is going to build coal plants," she said. 

Among other plans to be announced, the Global Energy Alliance for People & Planet was launched with an initial $10 billion from philanthropies and development banks to support the energy transition in the Global South.

The United States and the United Arab Emirates, meanwhile, launched AIM4C, to drive innovation in sustainable agriculture, backed by $4 billion in extra investment.

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