Using India’s Leadership of the International Solar Alliance to Solve the Energy Dilemma
In a move that’s seen by experts as a big step-up to India’s National Solar Mission, India along with 20 other nations signed the International Solar Alliance earlier this year. After talks between the founding countries for a better part of the year, the ISA finally became a legal entity on November 15, 2016 and will be headquartered in Gurgaon. The move is seen by many experts as a validation of India’s National Solar Mission and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to push for solar power in India.
What is ISA?
ISA is an international alliance of 20 countries aimed at furthering solar power as a viable alternative to energy needs and reducing carbon emissions of various developed and developing countries. Talks between the founding members had been going on for some time before the alliance was legally formed. The next step for this alliance will be to establish the rules of trade and transfer of solar technology between members and non-members, thereby taking the shape of an international treaty.
What are the benefits for India?
India has been a key member of the International Solar Alliance and played a crucial role in laying its foundations. With the push towards solar energy in India, along with the requisite policy framework provided by the National Solar Mission, India is currently seen as the biggest market for solar energy projects. The target set by the National Solar Mission for 100 GW solar power production by 2022 is a highly ambitious one for any country at present.
Given these parameters, the setting up of the ISA headquarters in Gurgaon is more than just a symbolic move for India. While India gets an average of 300 sunny days every year, factors like pollution and weather limit the capabilities of solar energy projects. Solar energy is not available at night, thus increasing dependence on storage batteries for night-time operations. With its position at the top of the ISA, India can draw attention of its leadership to these issues and find viable solutions. The alliance has also set a target to invest $1 trillion by 2030 in developing cost-effective solar technologies and applications which could benefit India in the medium to long run.
What’s next for ISA?
The next steps for the ISA will be to set up its secretariat in Gurgaon, followed by placing individuals who are highly passionate about solar energy and bringing its benefits to the people. These individuals will be the key to form a policy framework for the ISA and get all the member nations to agree on it so that the alliance can take shape of a formal treaty. This treaty will be crucial to ensure transfer of technology and expertise to countries like India in a cost effective manner. With better technology, solar energy projects that are currently operational and the ones that are being planned will benefit from lowering costs, allowing higher adoption by the people.
The ISA is, no doubt, a big step for India and the world. It will be interesting to see how this international alliance takes shape and works towards promoting solar energy projects around the globe. Raising funds and finding the right people to lead the operations will be critical for the success of the ISA. However, given its push towards solar energy projects through the National Solar Mission, India’s role in this global body will be crucial and will further strengthen her position in global energy affairs.