The International Solar Alliance (ISA) has transformed the pursuit of clean energy into a mission for the global community. Prime Minister Narendra Modi first proposed the ISA initiative in a speech in November 2015 at the Wembley Stadium, in which he referred to sunshine countries as suryaputra or Sons of the Sun. The ISA is a coalition of more than 121 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
The primary objective of the alliance is to enable signatory countries work for efficient exploitation of solar energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The three-day inaugural ISA summit, which recently concluded in Delhi and was attended by 23 nations, not only showcased India’s capability to effortlessly forge a global alliance of 121 countries on a crucial issue of clean energy, but also strengthened its already impressive environmental credentials. India is surging ahead in bringing solar energy to the mainstream. This year, India successfully achieved the target of producing 20 GW of solar energy by 2022, four years ahead of the deadline. This has immensely helped in bringing solar energy to mainstream in India. This leadership by example is being recognised and appreciated globally. French President, Emmanuel Macron on state visit to India on the eve of the ISA summit, applauded India’s efforts for showing the world the way in scaling up solar power generation capacity and observed that renewable capacity in India has within a span of two years gone up from 39 GW to 63 GW, while that of solar energy has soared by 140 per cent.
The ISA has had a great beginning, thanks to the vision of Narendra Modi, the alliance is now an inter-governmental body registered with the United Nations under Article 102 of the UN Charter. But this is only the beginning and the ISA needs to achieve a lot in order to maintain the illustrious beginning it has made. In order to make that happen, the alliance must focus on delivering on its promise to serve as a facilitator to ensure that large swathes of the unserved and undeserved population have effective access to adequate, predictable, and cheap energy.
Concentration on the core goals of ISA, such as aggregating demand, technical collaborations and lowering financing goals will also go a long way in realising the true potential of the alliance. Since there is no other such comparable alliance, the uniqueness of ISA needs to be maintained and justice is required for its vision. ISA must demonstrate success which can only be ensured by having dedicated focus with deadlines and milestones that make it possible to measure progress. The effective implementation of the mission of the alliance will not only make the body successful but also highlight the role of India as the leader in solar energy.
The generation of solar energy is fraught with challenges and there is an urgent need to alter that situation. Over-dependence on fossil fuels is already impacting temperatures across India. This, if left unchecked, will start affecting the crop cycles and adversely influence food security of the country. Thanks to the overbearing impact of climate change, the summer of 2018 is already expected to be a lot fiercer than usual and reliance on solar energy can possibly reverse these trying climactic situations. Solar energy implementation is a lot easier for many nations given their geographical and demographic attributes, but the same for India is not true.
Given its complexities and diversities and not to mention the mindsets, is a true challenge for India when it comes to implementing a change. And that’s what Modi has chosen to do with the help of ISA.
First and foremost, ISA will need to ensure that solar benefits are clear, tangible and describable by its users. It is also essential that solar energy business models are simplified and demonstrated for their viability to business users, suppliers and financiers. As apart of that, ISA will need to be flexible and nimble in finding partners and financing, and in outreach and capacity strengthening. India as the initiator of the ISA also needs to assist and support member countries in implementing policies to upscale adoption of solar business models.
In addition to these measures, ISA must focus on the urgent need to protect indigenous solar equipment manufacturers from cheap imports so that confidence in the manufacturing community is restored. These initiatives will spell success for ISA and definitely ensure that India’s place under the sun is guaranteed.