Covid Continues To Reshape India’s Global Solar Ties

The global covid pandemic is reshaping the solar landscape like never before.

While on one hand it has jolted countries like India to the need for establishing their own supply chains, on the other hand it has also brought home the imperative for a shared energy future.

“We are in the process of overhauling India’s supply chain and reduce over dependence on imports of solar modules,”India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told participants at the International Solar Alliance (ISA)’ First World Solar Technology Summit.

Though he did not name China directly,but the halt to supplies of solar modules and equipment following the covid outbreak has presented enormous challenges to timely completion of Indian solar projects. India has been depending on China for 80%-90% of solar equipment needs including modules.

A military standoff between the two nations has added to the complexity. India is likely to soon impose a 20% basic customs duty on imports of solar modules, which would come over and above a 15% safeguard duty.

“Our country has received proposals from various players for 10 GW of fresh solar equipment manufacturing,” Pradhan said.

In the same speech, however, the minister said that five state-run companies — Oil and Natural Gas corporation (ONGC), Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) — will join ISA’s coalition for sustainable climate as corporate partners.

Each partner will contribute $1 million to join the coalition, raising the total corpus by $5 million.

India also signed a tripartite agreement between its Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the World bank and the ISA for building a “One Sun, One World, One Grid” project with the aim of inter-linking grid network so that member nations can supply each other electricity during their peak hours.

“We will see a global grid happen in our lifetime. A transmission line crossing oceans such that the globe connected. I see before me an interconnected grid across the world,” Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal told the conference.

“An African nation may be giving us power or a European nation may be giving us power and at other times of the day we may be providing energy at their peak hours,” Goyal added.

“In that interconnected grid I can visualize a situation where power will almost become free. that is the day ISA should work towards.”

Bertrand Piccard, Founder and Chairman of Switzerland-based Solar Impulse foundation, said that energy cooperation must also expand other sources of energy like wind and biomass to effectively use solar, which suffers due to intermittent supply and insufficient storage.

That means despite it being the cheapest and cleanest source of energy, it is not being utilized as effectively as possible.

“Lot of people are not convinced about climate change. They say it’s far too long into the future. We have two arguments about pollution and air quality. Air pollution killing 8 million people annually. Its not a distance melting the south pole but today’s problem.”

While the covid pandemic has led to greater nationalization of economic activity, it has also underscored the need for solidifying global partnerships before another disaster of similar proportion strikes, participants echoed.

“The global pandemic and economic crisis has given us a trailer of what climate change can be like,” said Gauri Singh,deputy director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, UAE told the conference.

She said that by investing in solar and renewable energy as many as 42 million additional jobs can be created besides bringing benefits to the environment and health.

“We strongly believe that the world is in an energy transition; the UN sustainable goals will be used as our strategy compass as per our commitment to climate control by reducing global carbon emissions.”

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