Home / Industry / Energy /  Narendra Modi, Emmanuel Macron bat for solar alliance to boost global energy security

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday underlined the importance of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) for global energy security and environment protection at its founding conference here.

In an attempt to attract private sector investment in the sector, Macron said a joint guarantee mechanism is being put in place.

The International Solar Alliance has been working on a $300-billion risk mitigation fund as part of a strategy to create a sustainable financing architecture for solar projects worldwide.

Graphic: Sarvesh Kumar Sharma/Mint
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Graphic: Sarvesh Kumar Sharma/Mint

The fund will be used to insure solar power projects against risks such as default in payment by electricity procurers, foreign exchange fluctuations and regime change. This, in turn, will help attract investors to the space.

India also announced its $1.4 billion assistance for developing 27 solar projects in 15 countries, signalling that New Delhi would employ the first treaty-based international government organization based in India as a foreign policy tool to cement its leadership among developing countries.

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

“ISA is being described as India’s gift to the world to combat climate change," said Sir Peter Cosgrove, governor general of the Commonwealth of Australia.

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 during the India-Africa Summit in Delhi in October 2015.

Besides Macron, heads of state and government from 23 countries including France, Australia and Sri Lanka are attending the founding conference of ISA being co-hosted by India and France.

Besides them, several senior country representatives, including deputy prime ministers and energy ministries are also attending the conference which is focusing on promoting solar energy, including through credit mechanisms and sharing of technology.

“To promote use of solar energy, availability and development of technology, economic resources, reduction in prices, development of storage technology, mass manufacturing and innovation, a full ecosystem is required," Modi said.

To promote solar power, Modi also outlined 10 action points including increasing solar power in the energy mix, ensuring availability of better and cheaper solar power for all, concessional financing for solar projects, and creating a network of centres of excellence.

Macron took a dig at the US President Donald Trump’s announcement last year of his country’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement on the alleged grounds that it favours India and China.

“It was two years ago and it was just an idea that time. And we decided all together to act … Our solar mamas didn’t wait for us. They started to act and to deliver concrete results. They didn’t wait and they didn’t stop because some countries decided to just leave the floor and leave the Paris Agreement. Because they decided it is good for them, their children, grand-children—they decided to act and keep acting. That’s why we are here in order to act very concretely," Macron added.

It was India and France who front-ended the attempts to set up ISA and launched it on the first day of the United Nations conference on climate change held in Paris in November 2015.

Initially, ISA envisaged 121 sunshine countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn as its members.

But on Saturday, India said that membership of the body will be thrown open to all countries that want to join, with no criteria such as duration of sunlight and geographical location.

At present, 61 countries have signed the ISA Framework Agreement, 32 of whom have already ratified it.

This comes at a time when India is pursuing its aim of adding 175 gigawatts (GW) of green energy including 100GW of solar power. India also aims to achieve 40% installed power capacity from renewable energy by 2030.

ISA’s mission is to undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance and the cost of technology, mobilize more than $1,000 billion of investments needed by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy, and pave the way for future technologies.

On Saturday, India had stated that ISA “is planning to get all the multilateral development banks to support" the cause and increasingly ISA is “appealing to these development banks if they could set aside a particular percentage of their loan portfolio to fund renewable energy projects worldwide".

Ahead of Sunday’s conference, the European Investment Bank announced it was providing €1 billion as support for the International Solar Alliance.

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