Thursday, August 17, 2017

Chase the Sun- International Solar Alliance (ISA)

To revise economic thinking and give full value to our natural resources, let solar energy conquer everything!
India has initiated to actively encourage the use of solar power on a large scale in place of fossil fuels in order to honour its climate change commitments. On the first day of the COP(Conference for parties)-21 summit (Jan 2016), the International Solar Alliance (ISA)- a union of countries with abundant sunlight, having its headquarters in Gwal Pahari, gurugram, was launched by the Indian PM Narendra Modi which was later supported by the French President Francois Hollande. Under this alliance, 121 countries that fall within the tropics, between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, have been invited to make collaborative efforts to harness solar energy to generate the electricity. Most of these countries fall within Asia, Africa and South America. The ISA is focused on promoting and developing solar energy and solar products.
The chief objectives behind the International Solar Alliance- First is to force down prices of existing energy sources by driving demand for solar energy, secondly to bring standardization in solar technologies and lastly to foster research and development for growth and optimum utilization of the solar energy.
The leading activities covered by the organization will include Campaigning/awareness raising, knowledge dissemination and exchange of the effective technologies.
World Bank- a helping hand
In the visit of the World Bank President to India, the Interim Administrative Cell of the International Solar Alliance (ISA Cell) and the World Bank declared their intention to promote solar energy globally.  
 The Joint Declaration among the ISA cell and the World Bank will help in accelerating mobilization of finance for solar energy, and the Bank will have a major role in mobilizing more than US $1000 billion in investments that will be required by 2030, to meet the common goals of massive deployment of affordable solar energy.
The World Bank Group is helping India to deliver on its plans with more than $1 billion by lending over in FY 2017, this is by far largest-ever support for solar power in any country. The World Bank is also backing the India-led International Solar Alliance which aims to promote solar use globally.
Let the private sector bloom
The ambient objective of this initiative is to create a collaborative platform for increased deployment of solar energy technologies to enhance energy security & sustainable development, improve access to energy and opportunities for better livelihoods in rural/remote areas and to increase their standard of living by way of supplying required energy means.
Leading pinpoints of the ISA include-
  • Developing a roadmap to mobilize financing for companies indulged in solar sector,
  • Developing financing instruments including credit enhancement, reduce hedging costs/currency risk, bond raising in locally denominated currencies etc. which support solar energy development and deployment,
  • Supporting plans for solar energy through technical assistance and knowledge transfer,
  • Working on mobilization of concessional financing through existing or, if needed, new trust funds,
  • Supporting re-investment events.
The ISA will help sun-rich countries to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common approach. The Solar Alliance seeks to unite countries, situated partly or completely between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, which enjoy more than 300 days of sunshine a year, for the purpose of obtaining solar technology cheaply from the US, Germany and Japan, the leaders in photovoltaic panels. The focus is on solar power utilization & by launching such an alliance in Paris a strong signal is given to global communities about the sincerity of the developing nations towards their common concern about climate change and to switch to a low-carbon growth path.
The Indian government intends to promote extensive private sector involvement in the International Solar Alliance, as ultimately, Human beings are going to be relying on natural resources for a long time.
Soon after the commencement, ISA has increased significantly- two Programs of the ISA namely, Affordable finance at scale and Scaling solar applications for agricultural use, have been launched successfully. In addition to this USA, UK and EU have profound interest in developing additional programs. Further, Interim Administrative Cell of ISA and the United Nations Development Programme have joined hands for promoting its objectives in 121, ISA member countries. Apart from this, establishment of 24x7 knowledge centre is under way with the help of UNDP and National Informatics Centre, Government of India.
Activities to be conducted by ISA:
  • Collaborations for joint research, development and demonstration, sharing information and knowledge, capacity building, supporting technology hubs and creating networks.
  • Acquisition, diffusion and indigenization and absorption of knowledge, technology and skills by local stakeholders in the member countries.
  • Creation of expert groups for development of common standards, test, monitoring and verification protocols.
  • Creation of partnerships among country specific technology centres for supporting technology absorption for promoting energy security and energy access.
  • Exchange of officials/ technology specialists for participation in the training programmes on different aspects of solar energy in the member countries.
  • Encourage companies in the member countries to set up joint ventures.
  • Sharing of solar energy development experiences, analysis on short- and longer-term issues in key energy supply, financing practices, business models particularly for decentralized applications and off-grid applications, including creation of local platforms focusing on implementation solutions and grass root participation.
  • Establish new financial mechanisms to reduce cost of capital in the renewable energy sector and innovative financing to develop; and
  • Collaborate with other multilateral bodies like International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), International Energy Agency (IEA), Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN), United Nations bodies; bilateral organizations; Corporates, industry, and other stakeholders can contribute towards the goal of increasing utilization of solar energy in ISA member countries."
Thus, ISA is an important alliance for the future and what is done today is not just an agreement but a new chapter in the future economic history of the world. The delighting factor for effective use of ISA is that wider deployment will indeed reduce production and development costs, facilitating the increased deployment of solar technologies to poor and remote regions. India’s plan to ramp up solar power generation to 100 GW by 2022 is among the largest in the world and it will help to bring about sustainable, clean, climate-friendly electricity to millions of Indians.
We can no longer accept the paradox that countries with the most sun have the least energy. Therefore by placing a big bet on solar energy- climate justice, reduction of costs, regional and global issues of mutual interest will be solved.
Remember: The grass is greener where you water; sun will be useful if we utilize.

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