- The first World Solar Technology Summit (WSTS) was organized by the International Solar Alliance (ISA), on 8th September 2020.
International Solar Alliance (ISA)
- The ISA was jointly launched in November 2015 by India and France, on the side lines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties 21 (CoP21) at Paris, France.
- The ISA is a treaty-based alliance of around 122 prospective solar-rich Member Nations situated fully or partially between the Tropics, and aims at accelerating development and deployment of solar energy globally.
- As on 30 July 2020, 87 Countries have signed the Framework Agreement of the ISA and of these 67 have deposited their instruments of ratification.
- Most of these countries fall within Asia, Africa and South America.
- There are three objectives behind the International Solar Alliance:
- To force down prices by driving demand;
- To bring standardisation in solar technologies; and
- To foster research and development.
- The Alliance had already got the required number of ratification (by 15 countries) to become an international legal entity.
- The 15 countries which have already submitted their instrument of ratification include India, France, Mauritius, Niger, Nauru, Tuvalu, Fiji, Somalia, Ghana, Mali, Seychelles, South Sudan, Bangladesh, Comoros and Guinea.
- Its Headquarters is in India with its Interim Secretariat being set up in Gurgaon.
- It is India’s first international and treaty-based inter-governmental organization to have headquarters in India with United Nations as Strategic Partner.
- Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the ISA as “Partner Countries” and enjoy all benefits as other members, with the exception of voting rights (it needs to be confirmed after this universalisation initiation).
- United Nations including its organs can join the ISA as “Strategic Partners”.
- Partner Countries, Partner Organizations, Strategic Partners, and Observers may participate without having the right to vote.
- The ISA has set a target of 1 TW (1,000 gigawatts) of solar energy by 2030 through mobilisation of more than 1000 Billion US Dollars of investments.
- Though there are no targets or legal obligations imposed on member countries.
- In March 2018, the Prime Minister of India, and the President of France co-hosted the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in New Delhi.
- The Delhi Solar Agenda, adopted in the Founding Conference of the ISA, states that the ISA member States inter-alia have agreed to pursue an increased share of solar energy in the final energy consumption in the respective national energy mix.
- The first Assembly of the International Solar Alliance was inaugurated in New Delhi in October 2018.
- The First Assembly considered and adopted the proposal made by India for an amendment to the Framework Agreement to expand the scope of membership of the ISA to all countries that are members of the United Nations. This has not yet entered into force.
- The inclusion of the UN members to the Alliance will put solar energy on the global agenda with the universal appeal for developing and deploying solar energy.
- At CoP23 Bonn it has been clarified that the efforts and targets set out by the International Solar Alliance (ISA) are over and above the INDCs.
- Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) outlines actions on climate change that countries intend to take in the post-2020 period under the new Paris international climate change agreement.
What important initiatives has the ISA undertaken so far?
- To date, the ISA has established five key programmes of action:
- Scaling up solar applications for agricultural use
- Affordable finance at scale
- Scaling up solar mini-grids
- Scaling up solar rooftop
- Scaling up solar e-mobility and storage.
- To foster innovation and research in solar technologies, the ISA Solar Award (Kalpana Chawla Solar Award) has been created to recognize solar scientists doing extraordinary work across ISA member countries with a one-time corpus contribution of US$1.5 million contribution from the Government of Haryana.
- International Solar Alliance (ISA) has institutionalized solar awards in collaboration with Government of Haryana (Kalpana Chawla Solar Award), Government of Madhya Pradesh (Acharya Vinoba Bhave international award for outstanding work in promoting solar pumps) and Government of Karnataka (Sri Visvesvaraya Award) to strengthen the institution.
- To strengthen ISA’s partnership with the UN and its agencies and responding to the mandate received from the first Assembly of the ISA, the Secretariat has initiated follow-up actions for requesting a Permanent Observer Status of the ISA at the UN General Assembly.
How can the International Solar Alliance support member countries in solar deployment?
- The ISA will help aggregate and harmonize demand across member countries, thus creating a large ‘buyers’ market’, with the objective of lowering costs for members, and catalyzing innovation and investments.
Can the International Solar Alliance help in ensuring access to low cost finance?
- The ISA will be a facilitator of technology, knowledge and finance. At this stage, the ISA will not be funding projects directly, but will assist member countries in finding suitable bilateral or multilateral funding, and in developing innovative financial packages to bring down the cost of capital.
- The World Bank and French Development Agency are developing a Solar Risk Mitigation Facility for this purpose.
Palau Joins International Solar Alliance
- Recently, Palau, an archipelago of over 500 islands in Oceania became the 76th signatory country to join the International Solar Alliance.
- Countries which have signed the agreement until now include India, France, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Japan, amongst others. The agreement was opened for signature during the COP22 at Marrakech on November 15, 2016.
ISA in News
Universalization of membership of the International Solar Alliance (ISA)
- All the Member States of the United Nations will now be able to join the International Solar Alliance, including those countries which are beyond the Tropics.
Solar Risk Mitigation Initiative
- While the proportion of solar and wind generation is rising every year, it is still far from the scale needed to reach the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and to stay below the Climate Change Paris Agreement 2oC scenario.
- To reach this objective, large amounts of private funding will have to be unlocked to complement the limited public financing available.
- The World Bank– Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (WB-ESMAP), in partnership with, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and International Solar Alliance (ISA) has developed the Solar Risk Mitigation Initiative (SRMI or “the Initiative”).
- SRMI aims to support countries in developing sustainable solar programs that will attract private investments and so reduce reliance on public finances.
- It aims at supporting the development of bankable solar programs in developing countries leveraging private sector investments.
- This initiative offers development and climate financing for:
(i) Technical assistance to help countries develop evidence-based solar targets;
(ii) Ritical public investments to enable integration of variable renewable energy (VRE); and
(iii) Risk mitigation instruments to cover residual risks perceived by private investors.