NEW DELHI: India on Sunday found its rightful place in the sun as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brainchild, the International Solar Alliance (ISA), formally kicked off with 62 member-countries adopting the ‘Delhi Solar Agenda’ seeking to raise the share of solar power in their energy basket with a view to mitigating climate change and providing clean, affordable electricity to the underprivileged.
Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron co-chaired the ISA founding conference in the presence of heads of state of 23 countries and ministerial representatives from 10 other nations, indicating an acceptance of India’s leadership role in the global fight against climate change.
Solar Alliance to be headquartered in Gurgaon
The choice of Delhi as the venue for holding the ISA founding conference reinforces India’s pole position built on the Modi government’s plan to create 175 GW (giga watt) renewable energy capacity by 2022, the world’s single-largest renewable energy project. It is no wonder then that ISA will be headquartered in Gurgaon in Delhi’s suburbs, the first time that an international treaty body will have its secretariat in India.
The idea of forming an alliance of countries between the tropics — which enjoy an abundance of sunshine that can be harnessed for producing clean and affordable power — was mooted by Modi in 2015, months before the Paris climate summit in November as TOI first reported on September 3 that year.
Initially, the grouping was proposed to be called International Agency for Solar Policy & Application. The idea was to create a common market for green energy through shared values, experiences and resources. Subsequently, France joined as co-promoter, with then French President Francois Hollande joining Modi to launch the grouping under the ISA tag at the Paris climate summit.
Some 32 countries have ratified the ISA framework agreement, while 30 others have joined the grouping. The adoption of the Delhi Solar Agenda underpins the grouping’s target of raising $1 trillion investments for creating 1,000 GW, or 1 terra watt, of solar power capacity by 2030. Little wonder then that funding and political push for clean energy were the common refrains in both Modi and Macron’s speeches on Sunday.
Underlining the importance of concessional financing and less-risky funding for solar projects, Modi presented a 10-point plan, including making affordable solar technology available to all nations, raising the share of solar power in the energy mix and framing regulations and standards to support the initiative.
Since bulk of of the ISA members are from Africa, India has already decided to use about $2 billion of the $10 billion line of credit promised to African countries for renewable energy projects in those countries. This is also expected to further India’s diplomatic influence by creating a platform for cooperation on wider development issues within ISA.
Modi told the gathering that better and cheaper solar technology should easily be available to all nations and innovation should be encouraged so as to provide solutions to different needs. Stressing on inclusiveness, Modi said a vast network of centres of excellence had to be created. Solar energy policy had to be looked at in totality for development so that it could contribute towards achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs), he said.
Macron flagged financing and regulation hurdles for achieving the target which need to be cleared by government, private sector and civil society coming together.
“We know the hurdles… (there) are financial hurdles, regulations, capacity hurdles as well. We shall therefore lift every single one of them. To that effect, it is not enough to look at what governments are doing. We need a new international deal with the private sector, the international public sector and the civil society as well. It is common good and it is for the development of all countries,” he said.