Advancing discussions on grid interconnection in critical regions
Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have an abundance of clean, renewable energy resources, including river systems, sunshine, wind and geothermal energy. In both regions, renewable energy has the potential to be central to meeting growing energy demands.
Large-scale, cross-border regional and international ‘green’ grids – which connect areas that are rich in renewable energy resources and have high renewable energy generating capacity with areas of high demand – can help open up new markets for large-scale renewable resources.
Linking power infrastructure and markets together could also help address the grid stability challenges associated high levels of variable renewable energy (an issue for wind and solar energy in particular) by helping to balance supply and demand.
There is significant interest among multilateral and international organisations in supporting cross-border grids. However, there are major barriers, including the politics of international cooperation, a lack of information and research, infrastructure and harmonisation issues, and financing.
Understanding these challenges in depth is crucial to unlocking the existing potential. EEG is therefore supporting a series of roundtable events that focus on ways to overcome barriers and increase opportunities for cross-border electricity interconnections and the trading of renewable energy. The roundtables are being organised by Climate Parliament, a global network of legislators promoting renewable energy, as part of the Green Grid Initiative.
The Green Grid Initiative, convened by Climate Parliament, is a global leadership forum designed to advance discussions on grid interconnection in critical regions. It seeks to enable informal collaboration between governments, parliaments and companies on building the new green grids that are needed for the global transition to renewable energy.
EEG has co-funded and contributed to several Climate Parliament/Green Grid Initiative roundtable discussions. The first, ‘Green grids: connecting Asia’, was held at Wilton Park (an executive agency of the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office) and discussed the specific challenges, opportunities and next steps associated with grid interconnections in South Asia.
The second – ‘Energy futures: Green grids, electric cooking and the global energy transition’ – was held in Abu Dhabi in January 2020, before the Legislators Forum and the Annual Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). One major theme was to examine the potential for two key transmission routes within Africa: a clean energy corridor running down the eastern side of Africa from Ethiopia to South Africa and grids linking the nations along the West African coast. Discussions also focused on regional grids within South Asia, a clean energy corridor linking South and Southeast Asia, and undersea transmission lines connecting South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula.
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and social distancing rules, further roundtable events that had been planned in conjunction with Climate Parliament have been replaced with a series of virtual roundtables that will take place throughout 2020. In addition to discussing green grids and large-scale renewables (including energy auctions, power purchase agreements and attracting private investment), the roundtables will also cover sustainable transport and mini-grids.
EEG event co-organised by Climate Parliament and Wilton Park in Abu Dhabi, Jan 2020.
Wilton Park dialogue explores cross-border ‘electricity highways’ to harness Asia’s vast untapped renewable energy potential.