India plans to help set up a global electricity grid that may initially aim to link countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam with the sub-continent as part of an evolving energy security architecture.
The proposals will be presented at the second general assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to be held in New Delhi from 30 October to 2 November, said power and new and renewable energy minister Raj Kumar Singh.
On Friday, in a interview, Singh said that what India is talking about is a grid connection running east to west or west to east. If that can be achieved, then one doesn’t need any storage because the Sun is always shining somewhere.
India has been playing a key role in creating a new energy security architecture with some of its neighbours to counter China’s Belt and Road initiative that is aimed at connecting countries across Asia, Africa, and Europe. India has been supplying power to Bangladesh and Nepal and has been championing a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) electricity grid to meet electricity demand in the region.
ISA, the first treaty-based international government organization headquartered in India, has become the country’s calling card on climate change and is increasingly being viewed as a foreign policy tool, especially with India and France front-ending efforts to set up the ISA.
Singh said that in fact, the Saarc grid can be a part of it. India has to connect Myanmar and Sri Lanka (with the grid) now because both need power. Saarc minus Pakistan interconnectivity is going to be a reality. It will take time. India already has electricity grid connectivity with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
The minister said that India is looking at furthering these grid connections to the east. He has this discussion in the ministry. India will be extending it east. After Myanmar, India will approach Thailand. Maybe then the country can cross into Cambodia, Laos, and go to Vietnam. Hence, the possibility is there.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pitched for a global electricity grid while inaugurating the first general assembly of the International Solar Alliance in October 2018.
The International Solar Alliance initially envisaged a group of 121 sunshine countries situated between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn as its members. However, Modi had announced the “universalization” of membership with all United Nations members eligible for ISA membership.
Singh said that the Prime Minister had given a vision when he inaugurated the last ISA. The vision is ‘one-world, one-sun, one-grid.’ Hence the country can use that solar energy here. It’s only a question of transmission.
India has pitched International Solar Alliance as a counterweight to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or Opec, with the crude oil importers calling for a global consensus on “responsible pricing” amid rising global prices.
Singh said that what the ministry intends to do is to present this possibility before the countries to our east when country meets in the second assembly of ISA. This is a possibility that is a win-win for everybody.
The plans come against the backdrop of India pushing for cross-border energy trade. Energy diplomacy is a key part of Modi’s South Asia-focused neighbourhood-first policy.
Source: Live Mint