India and the UK will launch a project to create a solar array connecting countries in different parts of the world during the upcoming UN climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland.
Although solar power becomes cheaper than dirtier alternatives, countries cannot rely on it at night and must fall back on fossil fuels which produce greenhouse gases that heat the earth. This is particularly the case in countries like India, where demand for electricity is exploding.
The new project is based on the idea that the sun always shines in one part of the world, and the project aims to create a global grid that will transfer solar energy from one place to another, said Ajay Mathur, managing director. of the International Solar Alliance.
“For example, when it is dark in East Asia, it is still bright in India … If there was a cable between India and East Asia, this solar electricity could be supplied. to East Asia, ”he said.
The idea of a grid covering regions is not new, but it is the first attempt to create a global network. Some experts see the project as India’s counterweight to China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.
Mathur said estimates show that over the next three years solar power will become as cheap as power produced from fossil fuels, making it easier to build new solar power plants and storage facilities. But even then, countries with different priorities will have to come to complex agreements.
The project aims to start with a “coalition of the willing,” as two countries that would mutually benefit from the transfer of solar electricity, he said. These countries would then have to decide how they want the interconnection to work and what rules would regulate it.
“The number of volunteer countries will continue to increase over time as costs decrease and certainties become higher,” he said.
Mathur said investors need to be assured that their investment is safe and that they can earn a positive return, while ensuring that the cost of the electricity produced will be affordable.
The International Solar Alliance was hoping to strike a deal with a new group called the Global Energy Alliance, which includes philanthropic and multilateral organizations like the World Bank, to create a $ 10 billion fund for the project and help mitigate risks, has he declared.
“So we create the projects, we bring them to them and they help … make these projects safe enough to attract investment from international organizations,” he said.
Another potential challenge is whether the path between two countries is impassable, for example if the countries are not stable. In other cases, a longer cable or one passing under the ocean would be necessary. Any of these factors could dramatically increase costs.
Even with a “fairly aggressive” schedule, Mathur said the first projects linking different regional networks would still take “a year”, as countries must first be convinced of the concept and then work together to determine how best to develop the concept. ‘interconnection.
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