International Solar Alliance: Heralding India’s rise as the solar energy hub

On November 30, 2015, at the UN Climate Change Conference held in Paris, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the International Solar Alliance (ISA) of over 120 countries with the French President Francois Hollande. The alliance was launched with the aim of creating a sustainable world by increasing access to affordable and clean energy.

International Solar Alliance – a background

a. The initiative has been launched to drive promotion and use of solar energy and its related applications across developing countries.

b. The alliance has been forged between solar resource-rich countries lying fully or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

c. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) will be headquartered in Gurgaon. Its interim secretariat was recently inaugurated in National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) in Gwalpahari, Gurgaon.

Mission Statement

a. The ISA envisions sustainable development by expanding reach of clean and affordable energy.

b. To achieve universal energy access and energy security for the present and future generations.

c. To reliably fulfill energy needs in a safe, convenient, equitable and sustainable manner.

Objectives

a. To work towards increasing deployment of solar technologies in order to enhance energy security and sustainable development.

b. To increase the standard of living in rural and remote areas by improving energy access and providing opportunities for a better life.

c. To expand and accelerate existing clean solar energy technologies.

d. To create more direct and indirect employment opportunities in order to boost economic development of the ISA countries with special focus on rural areas.

e. To decrease the cost of finance and technology for immediate deployment of competitive solar technologies, thereby paving way for generation and storage of solar energy to cater to all the countries involved.

Focus Areas

In order to achieve the set goals, ISA will focus on 5 crucial areas:

a. Promote solar technologies: Member countries will be encouraged to popularise solar technologies and increase investment in the solar sector so as to enhance income generation for the poor and global environment. The focus of the promotion will be on applications of solar energy in areas of lighting, heating, cooling, distillation, desalination, disinfection, sterilisation, pasteurisation, storage, refrigeration, telecommunication, irrigation, drinking water supply, energy efficiency, etc.

b. Initiate of projects and programmes: Innovative programmes, projects, policies, and capacity-building measures will be launched jointly by member countries with cooperation from international organisations, UN member countries, multilateral and bilateral agencies, corporates, non-profit organisations, etc. to provide light from solar energy for the energy-deprived households by the year 2022.

c. Build financial models to reduce costs: Innovative financial mechanisms will be worked out to cut back on capital costs and develop long-term financial resources from bilateral and multilateral agencies, among other sources.

d. Build a common Knowledge e-Portal: A knowledge forum will be built, including a 24×7 e-portal for exchange of policy development experiences and best practices among member countries in order to save time, effort and cost.

e. Enable capacity-building among member countries:

1.  Encourage and forge partnerships among R&D centres of member countries for application-oriented research and delivering technologies to people.

2. To increase capacity building through training & educational programmes and exchange of officials/ entrepreneurs/sector experts/ students/interns/ apprentices, user groups etc. that will help people understand the obstacles and work collectively to achieve a common goal.

India’s Contribution

a. Recently, the total installed capacity of solar power in India crossed the 5 gigawatt (GW) mark.

Further, the nation has set a target of adding 100 GW of solar power by 2022. By the end of next year, India is also planning to add another 12 GW.

b. India aspires to establish non-fossil fuel electricity-generating systems that will supply 40% of the country’s cumulative installed capacity by 2030.

Conclusion

The ISA was proposed for the concerted benefit of solar energy-rich countries, in order to achieve universal access and create unlimited economic opportunities. The combined contribution of 121 countries will not only reduce research and technology costs but also strengthen international relations. It will enable ISA members to address climate change issues and switch to a low-carbon growth path.

In the long term, the alliance aims to create a secure future and clean environment for the coming generations. Currently, India has emerged as the global leader in this field with the potential to facilitate a constructive dialogue and partnership among the sun-rich nations of the world.


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