UK-India Programme to Improve Global Clean Energy Access

At COP26, the UK and India have launched a new grids initiative to deliver clean power to the world. Photo: UN Climate Change
At COP26, the UK and India have launched a new grids initiative to deliver clean power to the world. Photo: UN Climate Change

To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to within 1.5C, the world will need to transition to clean power.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi jointly launched a new international initiative on November 2, at the COP26 World Leaders Summit, backed by over 80 countries, to accelerate the global transition to a clean powered world.

Jointly led by the UK and India, the new initiative, called “Green Grids Initiative – One Sun One World One Grid” (GGI-OSOWOG), will accelerate the development and deployment of interconnected electricity grids across continents, countries and communities, and improve energy access of the poorest through mini-grids and off-grid solutions.

It features as one of the leading initiatives under the Glasgow Breakthroughs also launched at the clean innovation and technology event, part of a new joint plan that will see countries and businesses coordinate and strengthen their climate actions every year in polluting sectors to dramatically scale and speed up the deployment of clean technologies and drive down costs globally.

“The UK is working hand in hand with our friends in India to transform the future of the power sector and ensure clean and reliable electricity is accessible everywhere by the end of this decade,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In launching the initiative, the two Prime Ministers unveiled the ‘One Sun Declaration’ setting out a shared vision of harnessing the full potential of clean power globally through much greater interconnection of electricity grids across continents, countries and communities, including mini-grids and off-grid solutions to ensure no one is left without access to energy.

“The One Sun One World One Grid and Green Grids Initiative is an idea whose time has come. If the world has to move to a clean and green future, these interconnected transnational grids are going to be critical solutions. I congratulate the International Solar Alliance and the UK COP Presidency for bringing it nearer to implementation,” said Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi at the launch.

To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to within 1.5C, the world will need to transition to clean power, increasing the global reliance on renewable energy, like solar and wind power. Transitioning to this clean powered future will require developing an electricity infrastructure that is capable of coping with far greater shares of variable renewable energy, while meeting growing power demands securely, reliably and affordably.

The GGI-OSOWOG will help make this happen, by bringing together a global coalition of energy grid stakeholders, including governments and businesses, to accelerate the expansion of energy grids across regions and continents and create the foundations for universal access to sustainable energy. This will ensure the infrastructure is in place for the whole world to be powered by renewable energy, as part of the global push to realise the clean energy transition. 

Keeping 1.5C alive means global emissions will need to be cut in half by 2030. Achieving this will require a dramatic acceleration in innovation and deployment of clean energy solutions, and on a global scale. The International Energy Agency’s recent analysis calls for a tripling in investment in grid expansion and modernisation from $260bn to $800bn annually by 2030.

The initiative will help to mobilise financial and technical resources to advance grid developments, and also promote the sharing of existing expertise and best practice across the globe. This international collaboration will be key to making the clean energy transition faster, cheaper and easier for all.

The GGI-OSOWOG is said to be a transformational new programme, with the goal of making universal access to renewable energy a reality, by ensuring that clean power is the most affordable and reliable option for all countries to meet their energy needs efficiently by 2030.

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Rakesh Raman