NEW DELHI: The linking of Saudi Arabia’s and India’s electricity grids will help accelerate the latter’s energy transition, New Delhi’s power minister told Arab News after the signing of a “game changer” agreement on electrical network interconnection.
Saudi Arabia and India signed a memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was in New Delhi for the G20 Summit and state visit from Sept. 9 to 11.
The deal, signed by Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and India’s Power and Renewable Energy Minister R. K. Singh, focuses on cooperation in efficiency, renewables, green hydrogen and green ammonia, and grid interconnection between the two countries.
Under the pact, subsea cables from the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia will be connected with the western coast of the Indian subcontinent, linking the grids of the Middle East and South Asia — and in the future also Southeast Asia, as India is already in talks with nations including Singapore and Thailand to establish similar connections both underwater and on land.
The plan is to enable the flow of renewable energy between the regions, reducing dependence on costly storage facilities.
“The advantage will be that renewable energy will be available round the clock because they are in different time zones, so the sun always shines in different time zones,” Singh told Arab News in a recent interview.
“It is a game changer. The cost of electricity will come down for the entire region, for the entire Middle East, for our subcontinent, and also for Southeast Asia. And that’s the future. We are transitioning to a non-fossil future. This will enhance, accelerate the transition.”
It would also increase energy security, which has been one of the main global concerns since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, when the flow of oil and natural gas got upended by lower supplies from Russia — their main producer — and the international sanctions slapped on Moscow as a consequence of the war.
In European countries, the situation has led to an unprecedented energy crisis. Many other regions across the world also experienced soaring energy prices that have fueled inflation and hit consumers hard.
According to Singh, grid interconnection would prevent such scenarios in the future.
“Nothing like what happened about the energy crisis in Europe will happen again. This will replace the gas pipeline with the electricity pipeline,” he said.
“People in different time zones will be able to say that ‘OK, I want renewable energy from Saudi Arabia between this time and this time, or I want renewable energy from India between this time and this time.’ The prices will be quoted on the exchange people will be able to buy. That is a different world.”
Saudi Arabia and India are making a shift from fossil fuels, and both aim to have 50 percent of installed renewable energy by 2030.
Last week’s agreement covers cooperation in developing solutions that would help reach those targets and, Singh said, is part of growing strategic bonds between the two countries.
“This agreement is a huge agreement. It’s an overarching agreement covering the entire gamut of energy,” Singh said.
“It covers renewable energy, which is the future.”