India co-opts solar grid to fend off OBOR’s shadow2 min read . Updated: 28 May 2020, 11:47 PM IST
- The proposed grid gives India a chance to take the lead in evolving global strategies
- Building of the global grid is to countervail China’s attempt to co-opt countries into OBOR
India has invited bids from consultants to make an ambitious cross-border power grid plan that would seek to transfer solar power generated in one region to feed the electricity demands of others.
A request for proposals (RFP) prepared by India’s ministry of new and renewable energy for inviting consultants to develop a long-term roadmap for the ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSOWOG) comprises a technical and financial proposal. The RFP was reviewed by Mint. The ministry has called a pre-bid meeting with the interested consultants on 5 June.
“This is by far one of the most ambitious schemes undertaken by any country and is of global significance in terms of sharing economic benefits," said a senior Indian government official, requesting anonymity.
The building of the global grid comes against the backdrop of China’s attempt to co-opt countries into its ambitious One Belt One Road initiative that seeks to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe, and the withdrawal of the US from the Paris climate deal.
It also comes at a time of the coronavirus pandemic giving India the opportunity to be seen as taking a lead in evolving global strategies.
“India’s Prime Minister recently called for connecting solar energy supply across borders, with the mantra of ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ (OSOWOG). The vision behind the OSOWOG mantra is ‘The Sun Never Sets’ and is a constant at some geographical location, globally, at any given point of time," according to the RFP.
The global grid may also leverage the International Solar Alliance (ISA) co-founded by India that has 67 countries as members. It has become India’s calling card on climate change and is increasingly being viewed as a foreign policy tool.
“With India at the fulcrum, the solar spectrum can easily be divided into two broad zones, viz. Far East which would include countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, etc., and Far West which would cover the Middle East and the Africa Region," the RFP added.
The ambitious task unveiled on 26 May has been taken up under the technical assistance programme of the World Bank with the last date of proposal submission being 6 July.
Mint reported on 9 January about India starting consultations with the World Bank as its technical partner to implement the global electricity grid plan pitched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The plan has been spread across three phases. The first phase deals with the Middle East-South Asia-South-East Asia (MESASEA) interconnection for sharing green energy sources such as solar for meeting electricity needs including peak demand.
Fostering cross-border energy trade is an important part of Modi’s South Asia-focused neighbourhood-first policy. India has been supplying power to Bangladesh and Nepal and has been championing a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation electricity grid minus Pakistan to meet electricity demand in the region.