New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for a global electricity grid while inaugurating the first general assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on Tuesday.

He also announced the “universalization" of membership for the first treaty-based international government organization headquartered in India that will help provide a platform for climate justice.

India will move the proposal to make all United Nations members eligible for ISA membership in the assembly, Modi said while also inaugurating the second Indian Ocean Rim Association renewable energy ministerial meeting, and the second global renewable energy investment meeting, which was also attended by United Nations secretary-general António Guterres.

Initially, ISA envisaged 121 sunshine countries situated between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn as its members. The amendment will also help induction of countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Nepal and Afghanistan, which have evinced interest in becoming ISA members. Mint reported on 27 June about China and Pakistan showing interest in becoming members of the alliance. While 65 countries are signatories to the ISA framework agreement, 35 have ratified it.

Modi said that ISA should not be limited to the tropics but the whole world should benefit and added that Guterres’s presence reflects the importance of ISA for the UN.

With India and France front-ending the attempts to set up the ISA, it has become India’s calling card on climate change and is increasingly being viewed as a foreign policy tool. Prominent inter-governmental organizations in the energy sector include the Vienna-based Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA).

Modi pitched for “one-world, one-sun, one-grid", to harness the energy potential offered by the sun and added that there is a need to start thinking things anew.

This comes against the backdrop of China’s ambitious “One Belt One Road" (Obor) initiative aimed at connecting countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.

The idea of “one-world, one-sun, one-grid" will change the world as we see it today and is “feasible", power and new and renewable energy minister Raj Kumar Singh said at the same event.

India has been playing a key role in creating a new energy security architecture for its neighbours and has been championing for a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) electricity grid that envisages meeting electricity demand in the region.

Modi said that ISA will play a similar role in the future that Opec, which accounts for around 40% of global crude oil production, is playing today. With India being one of the major Opec consumers, it has called for a global consensus on “responsible pricing" against the backdrop of rising global oil prices.

“By 2030, 40% of our electricity will be non-fossil fuel based," Modi said.

This assumes significance in a country that is now the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and is among countries most vulnerable to climate change. India plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030, as part of its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted by 195 countries in Paris in 2015.

Modi spoke about India’s emerging green economy and said that the country’s renewable energy capacity has doubled to 72 gigawatts (GW). This comes at a time when India is pursuing its aim of adding 175GW of green energy including 100GW of solar power.

India has emerged as the most favourable destination for renewable energy with around $42 billion been invested in the country, Modi said. Over the next four years, the green energy sector has a business potential of around $70-$80 billion, he said.

“In last four years, solar power has become cheaper and has helped bring electricity to the poor," said the Prime Minister.

India has registered a record low solar and wind power tariff of 2.44 per unit and 2.43 per kWh respectively. The National Democratic Alliance government has set a target to achieve universal household electrification by 31 March 2019.

Modi also spoke about the Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (KUSUM) and UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable Lighting for All) scheme for LED bulbs and their impact on combating climate change. While 2.8 million off-grid agricultural solar pumps will be installed over the next four years resulting in an insulated capacity of 10 GW under KUSUM, the UJALA scheme has expanded the use of LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs, resulting in an annualised savings of 16,000 crore.

Close