International Solar Alliance (ISA)

International Solar Alliance (ISA)

 

Basics and Background:
  • The International Solar Alliance is an alliance of more than 120 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which come either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  • The primary objective is to collectively work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil based fuels.
  • This initiative was proposed by our Prime Minister of India first during his speech at Wembley Stadium, London.
  • This initiative was launched at the India Africa Summit and a meeting was held among them before the conclave of 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris on November 2015.
  • This is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization. The alliance will take the shape of an international treaty once its rules are worked out.
  • The Headquarters is in Indiawith its Interim Secretariat being setup in Gurugram.
  • The agreement will become operational after atleast 15 countries have ratified it.
  • The framework agreement says that the members of ISA would take coordinated actions through programmes and activities that will aggregate the demands for solar finance, solar technologies, innovation, research and development, and capacity building.
  • The ISA aims to develop cost-efficient solar technologiesand applications.
  • It is also expected to mobilise $1 trillionfor funding solar energy projects by 2030.

 

Objective:
  • To collectively address key common challenges to scale up solar energy applications in line with their needs
  • To mobilize investments of more than USD 1000 billion by 2030
  • To take coordinated action through programmes and activities launched on a voluntary basis, aimed at better harmonization, aggregation of demand, risk and resources, for promoting solar finance, solar technologies, innovation, R&D, capacity building
  • Reduce the cost of finance to increase investments in solar energy in member countries by promoting innovative financial mechanisms and mobilizing finance from Institutions
  • Scale up applications of solar technologies in member countries
  • Facilitate collaborative research and development (R&D) activities in solar energy technologies among member countries
  • Promote a common cyber platform for networking, cooperation and exchange of ideas among member countries.

 

Target
  • The ISA has set a target of 1 TW of solar energy by 2030, which would require $ 1 trillion to achieve.
  • India has set a target of 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022, which includes 100 GW of solar energy.

 

Focus Area
  • Grid connected solar power – Solar parks, solar thermal projects, Rooftop solar projects, canal top projects, Solar on water bodies.
  • Off-grid and decentralised applications – Village electrification and mini-grids, solar lanterns, mobile chargers, solar powered telecom towers, solar pumps, etc.

 

Vision & Mission
  • Vision – Let us together make the sun brighter.
  • Mission – Every home no matter how far away, will have a light at home.

 

Significance:
  • The role of the International Solar Alliance is extremely important in fulfilling the 2030 SDG goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
  • India had pledged at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 to increase the renewable energy capacity of India to 175 gigawatts (GW) by 2022 and further increase it 450 GW.
  • The alliance objectives includelowering the cost of energy, increasing investment in renewable energy, training and sharing of knowledge and technology among the member nations.
  • To sum up, it can be stated that ISA is certainly going to add a new dynamism to energy diplomacy in the 21st century.

 

First Assembly of ISA (2018):
  • For building domestic capacity of the ISA member countries programmes such as STAR – C Programme,development of the Infopedia have been launched.
    • STAR C is a Solar Technology Application Resource Centre project.
    • Infopedia is an online platform dedicated to the dissemination of information, best practices and knowledge on Solar Energy.
  • The ISA sent country missions to eight countries over the course of 2019 in order to understand the challenges and issues ‘on the ground’.
  • ISA has significantly extended outreach and have partnered with over 40 organizations. These broadly include United Nations (UN),Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), etc.

 

Second Assembly of ISA (2019):
  • The Assembly is the supreme decision making bodyof the ISA, and gives directions on various administrative, financial and programme related issues.
  • India(represented by the Minister for New and Renewable Energy and Power) is the President and France is the Co-President of the ISA Assembly.
  • Till now, 81 countries of the 121 prospective member countries have signed the Framework Agreement of the ISA.Of these, 58 countries have ratified the same.
  • During the first Assembly of the ISA, an Indian resolution to extend the Membership of the organisation to all countries that are Members of the United Nations was adopted.

 

World Solar Technology Summit:
  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) to organize the First World Solar Technology Summit on 8th September, 2020 on a virtual platform.
  • The objective of the event is to bring the spotlight on state-of-the-art technologies as well as next-generation technologies which will provide impetus to the efforts towards harnessing solar energy more efficiently.
  • Four Sessions: The event will hold four technical sessions that would be available to the participants in different languages namely English, Spanish, French & Arabic.

 

World Solar Bank:
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA) aims to create a World Solar Bank with authorized capital of $15 billion to fund projects, a senior official said. A special finance vehicle is needed for funding solar projects.

I JOSE

ISA would also launch the ISA Journal on Solar Energy (I JOSE) that would help authors from across the globe to publish their articles on solar energy, during the event.

 

Issues and Challenges:
  • Many critics are of the opinion that alliance is more a platform for some countries to showcase their technologies and programmes.
  • Many member countries of ISA have poor capabilities, therefore they do not know how best to leverage the platform.
  • The cost of solar installations remains high in many of the ISA countries. For example – Most African countries have a high Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariffs for photo voltaic (PV) cells, modules and semiconductor devices. Same happens with the Pacific island countries. High tariffs are detrimental to cost effective solar development.

 

Way Forward:
  • There should be greater clarity and better communication so as to convey the purpose of the alliance.
  • ISA should focus on its core goalse. aggregating demand, technical collaborations, and financial assistance for achieving its target of TW of solar energy by 2030.
  • ISA should create awareness among the masses with regard to the use and benefits of solar energy. It further needs to ensure that solar benefits are clear and tangible to users.
  • ISA should demonstrate business models that are viable for users, suppliers and financiers. Further, the alliance should support member countries in implementing policies to expedite these business models.