Wilton Park dialogue explores cross-border ‘electricity highways’ to harness Asia’s vast untapped renewable energy potential
Ministers, MPs, government officials and senior business leaders from Asia will meet at Wilton Park in the UK on March 28-30 2019 to explore opportunities to increase cross-border electricity interconnections and trading of renewable energy in Asia.
Wilton Park, an executive agency of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which convenes high-level discussions on international issues is hosting the Green grids: connecting Asia event in collaboration with the Climate Parliament, a global network of legislators promoting renewable energy, and the International Solar Alliance, an intergovernmental initiative. The event is co-funded by Energy and Economic Growth (EEG), which produces cutting-edge research on the links between energy and economic growth in low-income countries and is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).
The event forms part of the Green Grid Initiative, convened by the Climate Parliament, which brings together legislators, governments, companies and foundations – as well as project developers, regulators and investors – in an informal, innovative, collaborative leadership group to speed up the global transition to clean energy. The initiative is focused not only on increasing generating capacity for solar, wind and other renewable energy sources, but also on building the modern grid infrastructure needed to power homes, workplaces and cars with clean energy in cities and rural communities.
At the Green grids: connecting Asia event, participants will collaborate through roundtable discussions. The meeting seeks to build diplomatic and parliamentary support for – and strengthen investor confidence in – new renewable energy hubs and ‘electricity highways’ to connect centres of energy demand to the most abundant renewable energy resources.
The aim is to create actionable proposals for economically viable electricity transmission routes that would facilitate a major increase in renewable energy generation; to establish international working groups to study transmission routes in more detail; to increase awareness among Asian legislators and policy makers about the critical role of regional grids; and encourage and support government action.
Representatives from countries in the region, including Bangladesh, the People’s Republic of China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore and Vietnam, have been invited to participate.
There will also be a strong UK presence, including officials from the FCO, DFID, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), City of London investors and UK companies with experience in smart grid technologies and North Sea interconnection planning. The UK’s expertise in smart grids, interconnection (the UK national grid is fast becoming one of the most interconnected in the world) and electricity market reform – along with a strong interest in the City of London in green investments – make it a natural partner for Asian countries exploring the prospects for regional grid integration and electricity trading.
Nick Dunlop, secretary-general at Climate Parliament, said: “New long-distance, high voltage direct current (HVDC) cross-border transmission lines can carry energy over long distances with little loss, and can connect large-scale desert solar power stations and offshore wind farms to cities and industrial areas. At this event we are focusing on Asia, which accounts for more than half of global greenhouse emissions and two thirds of the year-on-year increase. In the future, Green Grid Initiative meetings will be organised for Africa, the Europe-Mediterranean region and the Americas.”
James Corré, Programme Director at Wilton Park, said: “The UK’s electricity grid is fast becoming the most interconnected in the world – we are proud to be hosting partners from across Asia to map out a new energy future. In all parts of Asia, governments are committed in principle to increasing grid interconnections, but more robust political processes are needed to plan and finance cross-border trading. Wilton Park provides a neutral environment for discussions to take place, and participants will have the time and space to share and assess ideas.”
Simon Trace, EEG’s programme director said: “South Asian countries are seriously constrained by a lack of adequate and reliable power supply, but insufficient supply is not due to a lack of resources. Hydropower and sunshine are plentiful, and the price of utility-scale solar and wind is rapidly falling. Regional power trade can help to unlock renewable energy; for example, Nepal and Bhutan, both rich in hydro resources, are close to large electricity markets in north and eastern India and Bangladesh. There are numerous potential benefits of regional power trade – but there is an acute need for research and evidence to build consensus and cooperation.”
Following the meeting, a report summarising the discussions, conclusions, policy recommendations and actions will be produced.
For further information on the Green grids: connecting Asia event, please visit https://www.wiltonpark.org.uk/event/wp1656/.
Notes to editors
About the Climate Parliament
The Climate Parliament is a UK-based global network of legislators concerned about climate change and promoting renewable energy. Most of its work in recent years has been carried out in developing countries. Achievements include playing a key role in increasing India’s national renewable energy budget from around US$200 million a year to $1 billion a year and reducing the cost of solar panels by close to 40 per cent in Tanzania by removing taxes.
About the Green Grid Initiative
The Green Grid Initiative, convened by the Climate Parliament, was launched at a planning meeting hosted by Mexico’s Minister of Energy in Mexico City in May 2018. In this meeting, it was agreed that a work process would be launched to develop practical proposals for new long-distance cross-border transmission lines that would facilitate rapid expansion of renewable energy. So far, 29 energy or environment ministers have committed to taking part in the initiative.
About Wilton Park
Wilton Park, near London, is a non-profit-making, executive agency of the FCO and a centre for high-level, off-the-record discussions on international issues, focusing on international security, prosperity and justice. Wilton Park organises over 60 events a year in the UK and overseas, bringing together leading representatives from politics, diplomacy, academia, business, civil society, the military and the media. Its meetings provide a neutral environment where conflicting views can be expressed and debated openly and calmly, allowing acceptable compromise and resolution to be achieved. Discussions are non-attributable to encourage frank exchanges and open and lively debate.
EEG is a five-year applied research programme, led by Oxford Policy Management (OPM) and funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). It produces cutting-edge research on the links between energy and economic growth in low-income countries. EEG works closely with policy makers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to produce research that aims to galvanise investment in more sustainable, efficient, reliable and fair energy systems. Its projects aim to fill knowledge gaps that will help bring the benefits of modern energy services to poorer people.