We must invest in power transmission, starting with greening the grid, to tackle climate change. India’s energy revolution shows how it will reach 500 GW of renewable energy by 2030…
Most glaciers have been melting rapidly since the 19th century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report found that climate change caused 210 Gt of ice loss year from 1993 to 2019.
According to another IPCC oceans and cryosphere report, the Hindu-Kush-Himalayan region could lose over 60% of its glaciers by 2100.
Glaciers, reefs, and forest fires all sadly indicate global warming. The message is plain. Reducing emissions is insufficient. The world must invest in climate adaptation now.
Greening the grid is the start.
Transmission grids are a major obstacle to energy transition in all countries.The new renewable energy capacities being constructed around the world will be useless without power transmission systems to connect renewable-rich to renewable-deficient areas.
Over 500 GW of wind and 1,000 GW of solar projects in the US and Europe await grid connection.
India’s energy transformation shows how the government is systematically meeting its 500 GW renewable energy target by 2030. Fortunately, India has 170GW of renewable energy capability.
In addition to pushing enterprises to install solar panels and wind turbines, the Indian government is building green energy corridors around the country. This is because policymakers know that energy transition requires transmission.
Auxiliary services, green day-ahead markets, and real-time markets have also begun to be addressed.
This will improve grid imbalance management. Energy storage and generation resource flexibility must be addressed simultaneously. India’s new pumped storage hydro project promotion guidelines are good.
massive plans, massive investments
A recent BloombergNEF analysis estimates that yearly electricity grid spending will triple from $274 billion to over $1 trillion by 2050 to reach net zero.
BloombergNEF predicts world transmission lines will virtually triple by 2050 from 2020 levels of six million kms in a net zero future. The graph below shows that the world will need more transmission than today.
Total global electrical grid length. Image: BNEF New Energy Outlook 2022
The Transmission Roadmap released by the Indian government last year has changed things locally. It predicts a $29 billion investment in transmission projects to link big solar parks and wind power zones to the Indian grid.
It also calls for 51.5 GW of battery energy storage by 2030 to power consumers 24/7. Since this capacity must be built in seven years, most of these INR1.5 trillion ($18 billion) to INR1.75 trillion ($20 billion) projects will be finished in two years.
INR 1.5 trillion ($18 billion) in transmission projects will be bid on in 18 months, making it India’s largest. It will be one of the largest public-private transmission project awards worldwide. Earning $7 billion in a year is amazing.
India’s transmission infrastructure is profitable, well-regulated, and offers investors huge expansion prospects. In recent years, private transmission rivalry has led to a tremendous growth of worldwide money behind projects.
Transmission line construction is difficult.
Wind and solar plants may be built in 18 months, but transmission lines in India, like elsewhere, are complicated. Right of way, land, wildlife, forests, and other obstacles make it impossible to finish a transmission system in two and a half or three years.
Additionally, new organizations and right-of-way issues are making it difficult. Thus, that area needs government backing.
The majority of renewable energy capacity is tied to state transmission utilities. Thus, intra-state transmission networks must be efficient and reliable to evacuate power.
The state-level transmission sector faces right of way, inadequate investment, lack of financing for state distribution businesses, and lack of intra-state transmission development competition despite rapid expansion.
The next big revolution is intra-state network development. Investing upstream will not maximize network infrastructure use unless the weakest link of the state-level transmission grid is addressed.
Next, investigate inter-country transmission grid connectivity. India’s demand profile is changing as it expands renewable energy production to reduce carbon emissions.
Power demand peaks from 5pm to 9pm in advanced renewable energy economies. This is also when solar is scarcer. This causes peak demand and energy production timing issues.
This peak demand period coincides with high sunshine in the Middle East/Africa region and can assist Indian demand and provide cheaper solar power.
Thus, an intercontinental system that uses the time difference between countries to inject surplus renewable energy into another country’s grid is necessary.
Increasing electrical access is crucial.
Climate change can be mitigated by prohibiting fossil fuels and increasing power supply. Providing power to the poor will reduce fossil fuel emissions and enhance living conditions.
Developed and energy-hungry cities will need more electricity to meet rising needs. To achieve net-zero demands, the BloombergNEF analysis estimates that the global power network will need to expand by about 152 million km by 2050. A super grid twice as long as today’s.
Transmission capacity must increase to slow climate change. India is setting an example and contributing. This must be emulated worldwide.