ISA Assembly Concludes With Trillion Dollar Pledge For 2030

Highlights :

  • Besides funding for solar, the focus on handling waste and on Solar Hydrogen is welcome.
  • The ISA will also need to confront the issue of volatility in prices seen this year, as stable prices are vital for consistent solar growth.

The fourth General assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) concluded on October 21 with a pledge to achieve the 1 trillion dollar funding target for creating new solar capacity by 2030. Presided by Union Power and New and Renewable Energy Minister R.K. Singh, who is also the President of the General assembly, the funding push was one of many key issues that have been discussed and evaluated. Delivering the Presidential Address, Singh said It is time for all of us to get together to make energy access using solar and renewable energy available. We have successfully done this in India, and it can be replicated globally. Solving the problem of energy access is more important than the energy transition. The energy transition is meaningless for those without energy. The ISA can enable energy access for 800 million people worldwide.” He further added that “It is time for developed countries to direct the energy transitions funds they had committed at previous climate conferences. International Solar Alliance (ISA) will cover credit guarantees and help in driving green energy investments in these countries. Developed nations must decide whether economic development should take place through clean energy, or by burning coal and firewood. The developed world cannot escape this responsibility.

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108 countries participated in the assembly, broken down into 74 full member countries and 34 observer and participating countries. There were also 23 partner organisations, besides 33 special invitee organisations.

The ISA, the largest multilateral organisation in the energy space today, has a very strong chance of leading the efforts to take solar places in the coming decade, even as heavyweights like the US join in. The current assembly also launched two new and essential programs. Management of Solar PV panels and battery usage waste, and a Solar Hydrogen initiative. Both will fill a key need as one (solar PV) matures and another (Hydrogen using solar) takes broader root. High oil prices seem to have added an urgency to the issue of pushing ahead on green hydrogen, as at current rates, it is at least competitive with captive diesel powered gensets to deliver quick power. Using Hydrogen for MSME clusters to replace diesel powered gensets was a key issue that was discussed.

Updates were also taken for the One World, One Sun One Grid (OWOSOG) initiative, first mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018.

With the US and EU backing the ISA, it is clear that the next big target for the bloc, where China is not a member yet, will need to be to ensure that solar does not go the OPEC way in terms of dependence on China supplies, as is the case right now. Disruptions in China have already led to significant price volatility and hikes across the board, and though left unstated, key ISA member countries and sympathisers are pushing hard to establish a counterweight to the strong China shadow on solar growth and outcomes. Unless the situation in ad vis a vis China changes soon, the organisation might find it no longer possible to skirt around the issue of pricing.

The reversal on the long term price trend this year is a serious threat to solar growth, and almost all governments consider low prices essential to make the transition as painless as possible. Whether that tallies with expectations of domestic manufacturers or not, be they in India, the US or elsewhere, is an issue that is still unresolved. Wishing it away will clearly not work.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International