India Launches International Solar Alliance: Light up lives and power their future

Narendra ModiIndia´s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has invited the sun-rich countries between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn to join an International Solar Alliance (ISA). Modi’s aim is to create a collaborative platform for an increased deployment of solar energy technologies, which will enhance energy security as well as sustainable development, improve access to energy and opportunities for better livelihoods in rural and remote areas and increase living standards. The prime minister will use the gathering of the head of states at the Climate Change Conference in Paris to establish ISA. The photo shows Modi in discussion with African delegates during the India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015. “When the sun sets, tens of millions of homes in India and Africa become dark. We want to light up the lives of our people and power their future," Modi said during this meeting, according to Indian media.
 
ISA is seen as a coalition of sun-rich countries to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on closing previously identified gaps by means of a common, agreed-upon approach. According to a working paper on ISA published 23 November 2015 the alliance “will not duplicate or replicate the efforts of others, such as IRENA, IEA, REN21, United Nations bodies, bilateral organisations, etc., but will supplement them in a sustainable and focused manner” (see the attached document). Adnan Z Amin, Director-General of IRENA, is quoted in the working paper: “I welcome this initiative by an IRENA Member Country and the Chair of the IRENA Council, India, and look forward to supporting ISA member countries in all possible ways.”
 
The working published by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy emphasises the lack of systematic information gathering about the on-ground requirements, the scarce opportunities for capacity building, the training of technology users and finally, the shortage of suitable financing arrangements to make new technologies affordable to the poor who require them.
 
Globally, most solar energy announcements focus on solar electricity. ISA, on the other hand, is aimed equally at solar PV as well as solar heating technologies. It will have five key areas:
  • Promote solar technologies and investment in the solar sector to enhance income generation.
  • Devise projects and programmes to promote solar application.
  • Develop innovative financial mechanisms to reduce the cost of capital.
  • Build up a shared knowledge e-portal.
  • Facilitate capacity building for promotion and absorption of solar technologies and R&D among member countries.
Indian ministry to host ISA secretariat for five years
ISA’s proposed governance structure would consist of an Assembly, a Council and a Secretariat, although the final structure will be subject to member countries’ deliberations and suggestions.
 
The Indian government will support ISA by hosting its secretariat for an initial period of five years. Thereafter, it is expected that the organisation will generate enough resources on its own to become self-financing. Until there is a separate infrastructure, ISA secretariat will be located at the newly built Surya Bhawan (translated as Sun House) on the premises of the National Institute of Solar Energy, NISE, near New Delhi. 
 
The Government of India supports the establishment of the alliance with a total of USD 62 million, of which USD 27 million will be utilised to create a building infrastructure and meet recurring expenditures. In the long run, costs incurred by ISA will be covered by membership fee, contributions from bilateral and multilateral agencies and other relevant institutions.
 
This text was written in cooperation with Jaideep Malaviya, an expert in solar thermal based in India (malaviya@solrico.com).
 
Websites of institutions mentioned in the article:
 
 
 
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