A few days ago, private companies in India and Saudi Arabia signed over two dozen agreements on a wide variety of subjects. This article will focus on the building of a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) undersea line which would allow power to be transmitted in both directions between the two countries, and beyond (if more lines are built beyond those countries). This is part of a greater initiative for the countries of the region to work more closely to advance their economies. This article describes the agreement as being between the governments instead of between the private companies. I’m not sure which is accurate, but either way, they plan to work together.
A friend on X highlighted this news to me and asked me to write an article on it.
Observers are missing this significant detail in the India-MiddleEast-Europe corridor.
There will be an under sea HVDC power link between Indian and Saudi Arabian power grids to share renewable power.
Saudis would become the Solar Power champions of the future.#solarenergy… pic.twitter.com/j037iIk9pT
— 𒀭Dr Able Lawrence MD DM🦉周天堂🌻 (@abledoc) September 13, 2023
We have written quite a bit about how HVDC transmission lines could help move power from one region to another, somewhat like how oil or gas pipelines do. Here are a few key points to consider:
- A difference is they transmit power in real time as opposed to fuel that can later be used to produce electricity or heat homes.
- These transmission lines could greatly help with one of solar energy’s two biggest issues:
- The sun doesn’t shine at night, so you have to either store energy from the daytime (typically in a battery), use an alternative source, reduce nighttime demand, or get electricity from somewhere the sun is shining. For India and Saudi Arabia, which are 2.5 time zones away from each other according to this time zone map, this would allow India to use Saudi solar power a few hours after the sun goes down in the evening and Saudi Arabia to use Indian solar power a few hours before sunrise. This becomes even more useful if it is extended westward 3 time zones to Morocco and eastward 4.5 time zones to Australia, for a total span of 10 hours.
- In high latitudes, the sun shines a lot less in the winter than in the summer. This Saudi/India line by itself won’t help with this problem, but other projects could provide electricity to high latitudes in their winter.
- A risk we should consider is that HVDC transmission would be subject to sabotage as oil and gas pipelines are in a time of war. This is one view of what happened to the Nord Stream pipeline that may or may not be the true story, but what we can assume is someone took it out — it wasn’t an earthquake or hurricane. I still think this collaboration will become a valuable tool to reduce the use of fossil fuels, though. Fossil fuels are very susceptible to disruptions during wars, and not just by sabotage of pipelines — naval blockades can prevent the shipping of oil, natural gas, and coal.
This is an important turning point showing that Saudi Arabia, a country that has made a huge amount of money on fossil fuels, realizes that the world is changing. The country’s leadership knows that renewable energy is getting steadily cheaper as fossil fuels get more expensive (not steadily, but in volatile price swings). They also know that their country and other countries have slowly decided to reduce pollution and carbon emissions. Separately, India has long used fossil fuels to power its rapid economic growth, but it is starting to understand the same two forces — that the economics increasing favor renewables and the effects of pollution and carbon are becoming increasingly unpopular.
Disclosure: I am a shareholder in Tesla [TSLA], BYD [BYDDY], Nio [NIO], XPeng [XPEV], Hertz [HTZ], and several ARK ETFs. But I offer no investment advice of any sort here.
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