Paris: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande will launch a global solar alliance on Monday to kick off the two-week long UN-sponsored climate change negotiations in Paris.
India has been the key force working to bring together 120odd countries for International Agency for Solar Technologies & Applications (INSTA), marking its commitment to both collaborative action and adopting a cleaner development path.
Described as potentially a “true game changer” by host France’s ambassador for climate change Laurence Tubiana, the solar alliance indicates India is interested in moving away from traditional fossil fuel energy systems. To this end, it is looking at collaborations, and not handouts or aid, to make the transition.
“The solar alliance brings together countries that have high solar resource, which have been relatively underexploited, and represents a large market for solar technology,” said Ajay Mathur, senior negotiator and India’s principal spokesperson for the Paris summit. “The idea is that larger markets and bigger volumes will lead to lower costs making it possible to spur demand,” he said.
The alliance will bring countries located within the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn on a single platform. These typically have high solar resource, some with as many as 300 days of sunshine. At the same time, many of these countries have high levels of energy poverty. The alliance proposes to bridge this gap. In doing so, it endeavours to address the lack of energy access, and create economic opportunities in a manner that is clean and sustainable.
It will include countries from the African continent, China, Australia, United States, and host of the 2015 UN-sponsored climate change talks, France. The United Nations has keen interest to join the alliance as a founding member.
India will organise a two-hour meeting in Paris on Tuesday to take the alliance forward.
INSTA will work to increase investments in solar technologies and applications that focus on income generation for the poor, particularly in rural areas. It will in partnership with member countries and other institutions develop projects and programmes to promote solar applications. Another important focus will be to develop innovative financial mechanism to access low cost, long tenure financial resources.
As part of its effort to drive down costs and increase the adoption of solar technologies, the alliance will focus on harmonisation of action, such as developing standards for products and processes, and procurement methods.
Lauding the alliance, a spokesperson of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organisation focused on transitioning to a sustainable energy future, said, “IRENA commends PM Modi and India for this initiative which further demonstrates a strong commitment to renewable energy. The agency looks forward to collaborating as the alliance takes further shape.”
As ET earlier reported, New Delhi has already indicated it will commit about $90 million to set up the alliance headquarters in the country and to meet recurring costs for the first five years. The government is also working to build a corpus of about $400 million, drawn from membership fees, contributions from bilateral and multilateral agencies. It is reaching out to financial institutions like the LIC, SBI, as well as corporations like NTPC, ONGC, and Coal India to contribute to the corpus. The interest on the corpus will be used to meet the recurring cost.
“This alliance is a delivery institution, it doesn’t propose to replicate existing institutions, but to supplement and complement them,” said Upendra Tripathy, secretary at the ministry of new and renewable energy.
Experts say that such a collaborative effort will not only help curb emissions, but also help avoid future emissions. It is argued that increased access to energy through solar deployment will help countries by creating direct and indirect employment opportunities. It will be possible for micro, small, and medium enterprises that form the manufacturing backbone of the economy to augment its productivity in a manner that is clean and sustainable. The potential for gains are immense.
The idea is to create collaborative platforms for increased deployment of solar technologies to improve access to energy and create opportunities for better livelihoods, especially in rural and remote areas. The effort is to improve the standards of living in clean and sustainable manner. “The alliance will have innovative delivery and financial mechanism. It will run with projects and programmes in partnership with member countries and organisations,” Tripathy said.
The alliance will work with partner countries to identify national opportunities to accelerate development and deployment of existing solar technologies. As partners, countries will choose the activities they want to pursue together.