ISA launches programme to accelerate deployment of solar energy worldwide

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) on Friday launched a programme to accelerate massive deployment of solar energy, at varied scales, across member countries of the alliance.

French minister of environment and the current president of the United Nation's Conference of Parties for climate action (COP21) Ségolène Royal and India's minister of state for power, Piyush Goyal, jointly launched the programmes under the ISA at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Friday.

Ministers and representatives from over 25 countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, Namibia, Uganda, Nigeria, Peru, Djibouti, Surinam, Zambia, Bolivia, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Mali, India, the USA and France participated in the ISA side event.

Member countries agreed to take concerted action through targeted programmes launched on a voluntary basis, to better harmonise and aggregate the demand for financing for solar power projects so as to lower the cost of finance and facilitate the flow of more than $1,000 billion investment in solar assets in member countries.

Since mature solar technologies are currently deployed only at small scale and need to be scaled up, the ministers discussed future solar technologies and capacity building, through strategic and collaborative solar R&D, to improve the efficiency and integration of solar power as well as increase the number of solar applications available.

A common buyers market for solar finance, technology, innovation, capacity building etc will lead to higher quality, lower costs, products better tailored to needs, collaborative innovation, technology ownership, and a more balanced dialogue with all stakeholders. This will empower solar-rich countries, lying fully or partially between the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn, which share common challenges and opportunities, it was felt.

As an initial step, ministers agreed to start analysing and sharing the needs, objectives, and obstacles to deployment at scale along the value chain, for those applications for which they seek the benefits of collective action under the alliance. They will now design innovative programmes leveraging initiatives from the ground.

The event also saw the launch of two programmes of the ISA - `Affordable finance at scale'; and `Scaling solar applications for agricultural use'.

While announcing the programmes, Piyush Goyal expressed confidence that these programmes will serve the interests of the farming communities in the prospective ISA member countries and ensure that there is sufficient flow of affordable finance for solar projects. ISA will provide a vibrant platform to bring together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate demand for solar energy globally, thereby reducing prices, promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity; and facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, he added.

The International Steering Committee of ISA, which met in New York on 21 April, had approved the programmes on agriculture and finance. Prospective member countries will begin work at the earliest and the process of implementation will be reviewed at the Founding Conference of the ISA scheduled to be held in the near future in New Delhi.

Alongside the event on International Solar Alliance at the UN headquarters, the Interim Administrative Cell of International Solar Alliance (ISA Cell) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) declared their intention to promote solar energy globally.

Major areas identified for working jointly included:

  • Development of synergies with ongoing UNDP programmes and projects on solar energy in and across ISA member countries;
  • Creation of complementary linkages with ongoing global and regional efforts in the field of solar energy;
  • Strategic cooperation in programmatic and technical expertise, and facilitating the participation of the wider UN system towards the creation of innovation hubs in and technology transfers between ISA member countries;
  • Support for the establishment of knowledge management systems as well as electronic networks and/or e-portals for the sharing, creation and management of knowledge on solar energy; and
  • Strengthening the development of ISA's institutional structure, and enhancing its capacity development efforts through the support of training programmes. In addition, both sides decided to work in other areas and themes as jointly decided.

The event also saw the exchange of a joint declaration identifying the areas of cooperation among ministers and ministerial representatives from around 25 ISA countries.

Goyal said the joint declaration is a new beginning and will help in leveraging and expediting solar energy development and deployment in ISA countries. The areas identified under joint declaration will be reviewed at the Founding Conference of the ISA scheduled to be held in the near future in New Delhi, Goyal stated.