A new high-level coalition for clean energy – The Green Grids Initiative, was announced today at the Glasgow climate summit. It will bring together a group of governments, legislators and international organisations, business leaders, researchers and citizen groups to accelerate the construction of the new infrastructure needed for a world powered by clean energy.
The Green Grids Initiative and its slogan – One Sun One World One Grid – was announced at COP26 by summit host Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the presence of other heads of government including US President Biden, the two Prime Ministers presented a One Sun Declaration, endorsed by more than 80 countries, setting out the group’s aims.
A Ministerial Steering Group will lead a process to accelerate the construction of large solar power stations and windfarms in the best locations, linked together by continental-scale grids crossing national borders. The Steering Group includes France, India, the United Kingdom and the United States, and will also have representatives from Africa, the Gulf, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Germany and Australia will also potentially join.
Working alongside the governments are Members of Parliament and Congress, renewable energy companies, university researchers and international development agencies. Research support for the Green Grids Initiative is being provided by the Climate Compatible Growth consortium of universities, which includes Cambridge, Imperial College, Oxford and University College London.
Working Groups made up of national and international agencies have already been established for Africa and for the Asia-Pacific region.
“One Sun One World One Grid” is a favourite phrase of Indian Prime Minister Modi. The One Sun Declaration states that, “all the energy humanity uses in a year is equal to the energy that reaches the earth from the sun in a single hour. The sun never sets – every hour, half the planet is bathed in sunshine. By trading energy from sun, wind and water across borders, we can deliver more than enough clean energy to meet the needs of everyone on earth.”
To make this possible, they say, “we need new transmission lines crossing frontiers and connecting different time zones, creating a global ecosystem of interconnected renewables that are shared for mutual benefit.” The organisers point out that wind power must be harnessed over a wide area to provide a reliable energy supply, and the “solar day” can be lengthened for everyone by connecting different time zones.
In addition to large-scale solar and wind power connected through international grids, the One Sun Declaration highlights the need for investment in solar minigrids for remote villages, smart charging for electric vehicles to help balance green grids, and new financial instruments to attract low-cost capital into clean energy.
Former British environment minister Barry Gardiner MP, whose long-standing personal friendship with Prime Minister Modi played an important role in convening the initiative, said, “in an interconnected world it makes no sense that governments continue to fixate on energy independence. A global green grid will make it possible for power generated anywhere to be utilised everywhere. It is cooperation on a global scale to utilise the renewable resources of water, wind and sun and to trade each country’s surplus to where it is required. This is an international political vision equal to the climate challenge we face.”