New Delhi: The International Solar Alliance (ISA), a multilateral body co-founded by India, plans to mobilise $1 trillion in global investments for solar energy across its member countries with special focus on Africa, ThePrint has learnt.
On Tuesday, the ISA — founded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former French president Francois Hollande in 2015 — announced a partnership with US-based charity Bloomberg Philanthropies to mobilise $1 trillion in solar energy investments worldwide. The charity was founded by former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg.
The ISA and Bloomberg Philanthropies also plan to work with the Washington DC-based World Resources Institute to present a ‘Solar Investment Action Agenda’ at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, which is taking place from 31 October to 12 November.
Asked if there are any countries the ISA will prioritise for solar energy investments, the body’s associate director general Jagjeet Sareen told ThePrint: “Countries in Africa only receive about 4 per cent of renewable power investments, and even less for solar. They are 17 per cent of the global population and 75 per cent of the region is without access to electricity. So at the ISA, while we see $1 trillion as the goal, the equitable distribution of these investments is equally important.”
Capacity building support
In Africa, the ISA will work in information, analytics and advocacy about solar markets, as well as offer capacity building support right from policy makers to technicians. “We have trained about 1,500 such people and our training programme for bankers is a hit across member countries, primarily coming from Africa and LDCs (Least Developed Countries). Local financiers are now understanding what a solar project is, what the risks are and looking at these projects more favourably,” Sareen said.
Investments in solar projects fell by 44 per cent due to the pandemic worldwide, but are slowly rebounding this year, a recent BloombergNEF (BNEF) report found.
However, the report also noted that electricity demand is expected to triple in 75 less-developed ISA countries over the next 30 years, while the cost of utility scale solar is expected to drop by almost 20 per cent in the next five years. This means solar is expected to be the “most economically viable solution” for adding new power generation capacity.
‘India must lead by example’
Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), India appears to be on track to achieving its target of 450 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030. In August, it crossed the 100-gigawatt (GW) mark of installed renewable energy capacity.
“India needs to, as they say, lead by example,” said Sareen. “Indian industries and financiers are all looking for opportunities outside India as well. As the solarisation agenda moves forward in developing countries, India could very well offer technical and financial expertise in our member countries.”
Earlier this year, former foreign secretary Shyam Saran remarked that India has “a good story to tell” in terms of climate change action ahead of COP26.
Sareen also said that if PM Modi launches the ISA-proposed global solar power grid, known as ‘One Sun One World One Grid’ at COP26, India may push for solar interconnections to its west with Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and to its east with ASEAN nations.
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.