As the world grapples with the ongoing war in Ukraine, emerging from the upheaval of the pandemic and an increase in the cost of living, much of the discussion and debate has come back to accelerating the move towards a clean energy future and a green economic recovery. While greater attention on the role of renewable generation on our energy systems is a huge positive for net zero, international collaboration must remain a key component of this transition.
This was a key theme throughout COP26 in November. As a Principal Partner of the summit, National Grid, along with thousands of businesses, governments, industries and activists, felt a huge sense of urgency to tackle the climate crisis, with a real appetite to do more and at pace. As a critical moment in time, COP26 set the world on the right trajectory, and there was a clear understanding at Glasgow that engaging internationally will be crucial to conquering climate change.
One of the clear takeaways was the role of businesses which, through their positions of power and influence, will be pivotal in turning intent and commitments into delivery. At National Grid, we know we have a central role to play in securing a greener future, working to create a zero carbon energy network for the communities we operate in, and to accelerate the shift to renewable power. But we can’t stop there. We need to go beyond that, and for us, that means working with global institutions to drive progress on an international scale.
So, what does that look like? When we consider how sharing energy sources across borders can work in practice and create huge benefits including security of supply and cheaper energy bills, we can look to our interconnectors - huge subsea cables that enable countries to share excess renewable energy, with the potential to power millions of homes. When the UK has excess wind power, we can send this to, for example, Norway; and when Norway has an abundance of hydropower, it can be exported more cheaply to the UK on days when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. And all at the flick of a switch.
Another key example is the Green Grids Initiative - One Sun One World One Grid, announced at COP26, by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The aim is to accelerate the development and deployment of interconnected electricity grids across continents, countries and communities. Underpinning this aim is an ambition to harness the full potential of renewable resources globally and transport these energy sources to areas that need it.
Backed by over 80 countries, international collaboration is absolutely critical to driving this initiative and transforming energy systems in a way that sees greater growth, jobs and investment in a green future. It aligns with our vision to create electricity grids that are interconnected to deliver a huge scale-up of secure, reliable and affordable power. And vitally, doing so can ensure that no one is left behind in this transition.
National Grid has an active role in supporting the Green Grids Initiative. In addition to joining the secretariat, we continue to work with the COP26 Presidency to provide global peer to peer electricity network support to countries developing their network decarbonisation plans including South Africa, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines and Vietnam. We can’t forget the importance of knowledge sharing as part of the collaboration among countries, whether that’s through workshops, forums, providing guidance or advice. It’s not just about working together but also learning from each other’s different experiences, wide-ranging successes and the breadth of expertise around the world.
Achieving a transition to renewable and low carbon sources is at the heart of tackling the climate crisis and ensuring people around the world have access to the power they need. It’s vital that we highlight the importance of harnessing strengths across different time zones and jurisdictions to make net zero a reality for us all. Looking ahead to later this year, COP27 in Africa is a huge opportunity to do just that, providing a stage for leaders from across the sector to engage governments and businesses and drive forward goals to deliver a clean energy transition.
If you’re interested in hearing more, join National Grid at the CBI conference: Achieving Net Zero on 7-8 June.