The Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (JREF) and the Desertec Foundation have proposed the development of an Asian Supergrid to underpin the expansion of renewable energy in the region.

The two organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding to co-operate on promoting the initiative, which would help to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy around Asia as an alternative to fossil fuel and nuclear energy.

The agreement was signed on the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that triggered the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The Asian supergrid would link the electricity systems of Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia and Russia with high voltage direct current transmission lines. Linking these grids would enable the delivery of electricity from the region’s most abundant renewable energy sources to centres of demand.

Desertec and JREF are planning to exchange knowledge and co-ordinate their work to develop a suitable framework for the development of a supergrid. Desertec, which is developing a supergrid concept linking Europe with North Africa, says it has already conducted a feasibility study on potential grid corridors to make the best use of the desert sun in greater East Asia.

“The efficient use of the practically inexhaustible energy of the East Asian desert sun in combination with the expansion of renewable energies can sustainably improve living conditions for current and future generations in the region,” said Dr Thiemo Gropp, director of the Desertec Foundation. “It also offers Asian countries the chance to take a leading role in the fight against climate change by harnessing the most abundant of all energy sources on earth.”