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nternational Solar Alliance's first World Solar Technology Summit, to be held in the national capital on Tuesday (Photo: Bloomberg)
nternational Solar Alliance's first World Solar Technology Summit, to be held in the national capital on Tuesday (Photo: Bloomberg)

ISA to be nodal agency for developing global grid, help NTPC develop projects

  • Partnership agreements for One Sun One World One Grid, deployment of one million solar irrigation pumps and setting up solar heating and cooling projects to be inked at first World Solar Technology Summit

NEW DELHI: From helping state-run NTPC Ltd secure solar projects in 47 of least developed and small island developing member countries of International Solar Alliance (ISA) to being appointed the nodal agency for implementing India’ global electricity grid plan, the ISA’ first World Solar Technology Summit, to be held in the national capital on Tuesday, is expected to see some major announcements, said two people aware of the development.

This comes in the backdrop of China’s attempt to co-opt countries into its ambitious One Belt One Road initiative. The other marquee partnerships expected to be inked on Tuesday include the one between the Seoul headquartered Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the ISA for providing technical assistance in deploying one million solar irrigation pumps.

The who’s who of the global solar landscape is expected to attend the Summit hosted by the first treaty-based international government organization headquartered here, that has become a significant foreign policy tool.

“I hope the MoU we sign today will facilitate a strong partnership between GGGI and ISA. We look forward to collaborating with ISA to support deployment of 1 million solar pumps over the next five years. Both organizations have a common goal of supporting developing countries to achieve green growth and sustainable development," said Dr. Frank Rijsberman, Director-General, GGGI.

To start with, this support for solar pumps will be provided to Uganda, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Senegal, Mozambique, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and Kiribati and maybe extended to other ISA member countries.

The development assumes significance given that the ISA has achieved global disruption by bringing down the cost of solar-powered agricultural pumps by half, Mint reported earlier. India’s state-run Energy Efficiency Services Ltd conducted the largest global price discovery exercise by aggregating the demand from 22 ISA member nations, in a potential order valued at $2.7 billion.

ISA also plans to sign a partnership agreement with the Paris headquartered International Institute of Refrigeration for setting up solar heating and cooling demonstration projects in member countries.

Queries emailed to spokespersons for ISA and NTPC on late Sunday night wasn’t immediately answered.

“More than 26000 participants from 149 countries have registered to join the virtual Summit which is expected to bring the spotlight on accelerating affordable and sustainable clean green energy by showcasing and deliberating on innovative state of the art next generation technologies in solar power," India’ ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) said in a statement.

The summit will showcase next generation technologies that can ramp up solar deployment at an affordable cost and will also be attended by ministers of 67 ISA member nations, global chief executives and multilateral institutions.

India and France have front-ended attempts to set up ISA, which has become India’s calling card on climate change, with France terming it as a “political project".

India has been trying to leverage ISA to execute the ambitious ‘One Sun One World One Grid’, that seeks to transfer solar power generated in one region to feed the electricity demands of others and India’ aim of becoming an electricity exporter. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been championing the global electricity grid plan.

According to the partnership agreement to be inked between the ISA, MNRE and the World Bank; it will be the ISA that will manage the bid process management and the global grid’ implementation plan.

The global grid plan is spread across three phases. The first phase deals with the Middle East-South Asia-South-East Asia (MESASEA) interconnection for sharing green energy sources such as solar power. The second phase deals with the MESASEA grid getting interconnected with the African power pools; and the third and final phase is on global interconnection.

French government-owned power utility Electricite de France SA and consulting firms McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group, Kearney, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers are among entities that have shown interest in creating the global solar grid roadmap, Mint reported earlier.

With clean energy projects comprising more than a fifth of its installed power generation capacity, India has also been leveraging its solar energy credentials to build solar power parks under the aegis of ISA amid Chinese attempts to lure nations into its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative.

Under the aegis of the ISA, India has also been trying to land solar power project contracts in its member countries. A case in point being Sri Lanka, where state-run NTPC Ltd plans to set up a solar power park. NTPC also plans to help Gambia and Malawi develop solar power parks and is eyeing project management consultancy contracts in Sudan, Mozambique, Egypt, Uganda, Rwanda and Niger. India’s largest power generation utility recently got such contracts in Mali and Togo.

“ISA and NTPC will jointly look to work on projects in area of primary health care solarization, solar water pumps, solar powered cold storage in the 47 LDC and SIDS countries," said a person aware of the development cited above who did not want to be named.

The event will also be addressed by Bertrand Piccard, who flew around the world in a solar powered plane; K. Vijay Raghavan principal scientific advisor to Government of India; and Nobel laureates Mario Molina and M. Stanley Whittingham.

Whittingham who was jointly awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of lithium ion batteries will give the keynote address.

France’ ecological transition minister Barbara Pompili and the co-president of the ISA Assembly, European Commission’ executive vice president Frans Timmermans and ISA president and India’s power and renewable energy minister Raj Kumar Singh are also expected to attend the event.

As many as 84 countries have signed the ISA framework agreement, and 67 have ratified it. Germany has also expressed interest in joining Gurugram-headquartered ISA.

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