International Solar Alliance, India’s Brainchild is Powerful Catalyst

The alliance will provide these nations a voice and act as a platform to share experiences and narrow technological gaps through cooperation and increased engagement between Governments, businesses and the citizenry.

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On March 11, the heads of around 40 countries came in India for the first official summit of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), a brainchild of India and a non-profit treaty-based group of 121 countries promoting the use of solar energy.

The International Solar Alliance initiative was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21) on November 30, 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former French President François Hollande.

The Alliance is conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs. It will provide a platform to collaborate in addressing identified gaps through a common, agreed approach. So far, 32 of the 60 member countries who have joined the alliance are from Africa.

The 61 countries that have joined the alliance and the 32 that have ratified the framework agreement post a strong message of target-orientation, a dynamic that is entirely welcome in this day and age of an alarming rate of fossil fuel-backed global energy consumption.

With the headquarters of the ISA in Gurugram, India now has the opportunity to take charge of leading the global energy transformation from using fossil fuels to adopting cleaner sources of energy. This comes even as India chases the world’s largest renewable programme, targeting 175 gigawatts (GW, or 1,000 megawatts) of renewable power by 2022 against its current capacity of around 60 GW.

India will also be instrumental in shaping the International Solar Alliance’s agenda as it houses the Secretariat and is a member of the steering committee — two factors that will raise India’s soft power.

First, a large number of potential members of the International Solar Alliance are developing countries with large agrarian populations who face related challenges like energy deficiency and are in need for a stronger voice in the international community.

The alliance will provide these nations a voice and act as a platform to share experiences and narrow technological gaps through cooperation and increased engagement between Governments, businesses and the citizenry.

Second, India, along with France, is driving the “world’s largest renewable energy expansion programme”, that will help transform the lives of people through simple devices like solar lanterns, cookers, water pumps and solar street lights. This sustainable approach provides a positive development pathway.

India seems to have made amends by taking charge of the ISA and the solar power development mission and now it remains to be seen how much the country will be able to do it internationally.

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