As the first International Solar Alliance (ISA) Summit, co-hosted by India and France, at Rashtrapati Bhavan kicks off today, it not only brings spotlight on India as a key player in harnessing solar energy, it is also being seen as a huge diplomatic victory for the country. The alliance, which aims at promoting solar energy and reduction in the use of fossil fuels in energy-rich countries, was launched in November 2015 at the Paris climate summit by PM Modi and former French President Francois Hollande.
"India will produce 175 GW electricity from renewable sources by 2022 and 100 GW will be from solar. Distribution of 28 crore LED bulbs in 3 years has saved $2 billion and 4GW of electricity. India will also provide 500 training slots for ISA member countries and start solar tech mission to lead R&D in the sector, said PM Modi. He also called for framing regulations and standards to promote solar energy.
I have 10 action points in my mind. The first is that we have to ensure better and economic solar energy is made available to all. We have to encourage innovation and increase our solar energy production, Modi said. Other points call for concessional financing, affordable technology to raise share of solar electricity in energy mix.
We want solar revolution worldwide, says PM Modi. Out of the 121 countries, 61 have joined the alliance. 32 others have ratified the framework, PM Modi said.
"Bharat mein vedo ne hazaaro saal pehlay se surya ko vishwa ki aatma maana hai. Bharat mein surya ko poore jeevan ka poshak maana gaya hai. Aaj jab hum climate change jaisi chunauti se nipatne ka raasta dhund rahe hain toh hum pracheen darshan ke santulan aur samagr dhristikon ki ore dekhna hoga (The significant position given to sun in our vedas is admirable. In India, the sun is known as the caretaker of all life. Today when we battling climate change, we have to look towards the ancient wisdom)," PM Modi said.
"I welcome you all to this summit in Delhi. The seeds to this historic day were sown during the Paris summit in November 2015," said PM Modi. "Today those seeds have grown into a new plant." Modi also thanked France for its contribution to the alliance.
French President Macron asked the visiting dignitaries to make concrete announcements on what they are doing to generate solar energy in their countries.
"India and France decide to set up a joint working group to institutionalise cooperation in the area of conservation of the environment. French Minister Poirson said, it is an ambitious beginning and India France should overcome barriers in deepening cooperation," Environment minister Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday after delegate-level talks with Brune Poirson, French Minister of State for Ecological and Inclusive Transition.
"Coming together for a cleaner and greener future...President @EmmanuelMacron, PM @narendramodi and other distinguished world leaders come together for the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance in Delhi," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted earlier this morning.
The summit will focus on various aspects of promoting solar energy, such as credit mechanism, crowd funding and sharing of technological breakthroughs, in 121 countries associated with ISA. Twenty three heads of state, senior representatives of many countries, including deputy prime ministers and energy ministries are participating in the summit.
French President Emmanuel Macron's ongoing India visit is likely to boost Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiatives on mitigating the effects of climate change with the use of renewable energy. France and India are likely to sign a technology transfer agreement on solar energy at the ISA summit.
Today's summit will discuss various projects being prepared by different countries in areas including rural electrification, off grid solar power, water supply and irrigation.
Solar energy generation costs a lot of money and emerging markets find it difficult to fund the projects. But with a joint declaration signed in Delhi between the ISA and major funding agencies, the issue of support has been solved to a great extent.
In January, India crossed a little over 20 gw solar energy capacity, according to clean energy market tracker Mercom India; China's generating capacity is 130 gw. Sixty per cent of India's installed capacity comes from coal, while actual generation of electricity is 75 per cent. Renewables contribute 18 per cent. The rest comes from nuclear, biomass and other sources.
India plans to generate 1,000 gigawatt (gw) solar energy and raise $1 trillion by 2030. This move could establish India as a major player in geopolitics by taking a leadership role in the critical area of climate change policy and business. Though US President Donald Trump has left the Paris climate deal, China's President Xi Jinping is still in the game.
India has succeeded in lowering solar power tariffs, but there are hurdles to the ISA, with only 55 of 121 prospective countries signing up for the alliance. France is the only developed economy to support the ISA, although the World Bank has promised its support while India is taking fast strides. In the meantime, trade wars over solar technology with countries like the US continue.