Home / Industry / Energy /  International Solar Alliance becomes India’s calling card on climate change

New Delhi: With 19 countries ratifying its framework agreement, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on Wednesday became the first treaty-based international government organisation to be based in India.

This marks the culmination of India’s efforts, which had taken a lead role in setting up the ISA—an alliance of 121 sunshine countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. ISA also signals that New Delhi would employ it as a foreign policy tool to cement its leadership among developing countries.

To start with, India has also set aside $2 billion for solar projects in Africa out of the government’s $10 billion concessional line of credit for Africa.

Other prominent intergovernmental organisations in the energy sector include the Vienna-based Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).

The idea of a solar alliance of countries that receive sunshine for around 300 days in a year was mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The ISA is an Indian initiative, jointly launched by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi and the President of France on 30th November 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN Climate Conference. It aims at addressing obstacles to deployment at scale of solar energy through better harmonization and aggregation of demand from solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn," the Indian government said in a statement on Tuesday.

One of the ways that the ISA is exploring to reduce costs is to aggregate the demand from member nations and then call for tenders. To start with, this approach is being explored for bringing down the cost of solar powered agricultural pumps.

The framework agreement has been ratified by India, France, Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, Cuba, Fiji, Guinea, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Nauru, Niger, Peru, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tuvalu.

Also, 46 countries including Australia, Bangladesh. Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia, France, Nigeria, UAE and Venezuela are signatory to the agreement.

Upendra Tripathy, a former secretary of India’s renewable energy ministry, was appointed interim director general of the ISA, Mint reported on 19 April.

The World Bank last year signed an agreement with the ISA to mobilize $1 trillion in investments by 2030. In addition, the ISA is also working on a plan to create a $300 billion risk mitigation fund as part of the strategy to create a sustainable financing architecture for solar projects globally. The fund will be used to insure solar power projects against risks such as default in payment from electricity procurers, foreign exchange fluctuation and regime change. This, in turn, will help attract investors to the space.


Utpal Bhaskar

"Utpal Bhaskar leads Mint's policy and economy coverage. He is part of Mint’s launch team, which he joined as a staff writer in 2006. Widely cited by authors and think-tanks, he has reported extensively on the intersection of India’s policy, polity and corporate space.
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