International Solar Alliance

The first International Solar Alliance summit, co-chaired by the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Narendra Modi, and the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, was held in New Delhi on 11 March 2018.

Confirmation that the summit would take place came on 3 June 2017 during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France just two days after the United States had decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. At the time, the two leaders confirmed their commitment to combating global warming and ensuring the ecological and energy transition through concrete actions and instruments like the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

The importance of implementing this Alliance was recalled during the One Planet Summit in December 2017, during which France and India held the "International Solar Alliance in action" meeting with ISA countries, companies, international organizations and technical agencies. The ISA summit is an important step towards implementing the One Planet commitments.

What is the International Solar Alliance?

The International Solar Alliance was launched jointly by the Indian Prime Minister and the French President during COP21. It aims to contribute to the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement through rapid and massive deployment of solar energy. ISA also contributes to the 12 commitments of the One Planet Summit.

ISA aims to bring together the 121 sun-rich States located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn to provide a collective response to the main common obstacles to the massive deployment of solar energy in terms of technology, finance and capacity. The aim is to raise the trillion dollars needed to develop 1 terawatt of solar energy capacity by 2030.

Key figures

The countries located between the two tropics are, for the great majority, developing ones.

20-50% of their populations do not have access to electricity. They also represent: 73% of the global population; 36% of world GDP; 55% of total energy consumption worldwide; and only 23% of installed solar capacity.

The 60 countries that have joined the International Solar Alliance represent a combined potential to develop 138 GW of solar capacity in the next five years, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Solar energy has an important role to play in ensuring a sustainable energy future and has shown enormous potential: in 90 minutes, the solar energy striking the Earth would be sufficient to provide the entire planet’s energy needs for one year.

The costs of solar photovoltaic modules have fallen by around 80% since the end of 2009, making it one of the cheapest sources for electricity generation, especially in countries between the tropics. Thanks to the decrease in cost and technology improvement, solar photovoltaic modules are currently the fastest-growing source of electricity globally.

What has happened since C0P21?

  • 60 States have joined the Alliance, which obtained the status of an international organization on 6 December 2017;
  • 5 programmes of action have been launched on rural and decentralized applications, finance, mini-grids, rooftop installations and solar e-mobility;
  • 6 meetings of the ISA International Steering Committee have been held, co-chaired by France and India;
  • Forums to pool private sector provision, finance and solar energy demand have been organized in Paris and New Delhi;
  • 100 initial projects for solar applications have been identified from 36 ISA member countries;
  • A common financial guarantee mechanism is being established to foster affordable access to finance.

The Alliance’s five programmes of action

  • Rural and decentralized applications: Most Alliance member countries are agrarian economies. This programme aims to improve yields and economic benefits by providing reliable, affordable solar applications that are suited to needs and accessible to all farmers in various fields.
  • Access to affordable finance: Financial cost is currently the major obstacle to the deployment of solar technologies, despite rapid technological progress. The countries taking part in the programme work on drawing up common principles for legislative and regulatory frameworks, and on risk-reduction instruments aimed at enhancing their chances of accessing finance.
  • Island and village solar mini-grids: Islands and non-interconnected communities are among those most interested in renewables, and solar in particular. This programme aims to develop and replicate commercial models, adopt common standards and launch calls for tenders for the installation of mini-grids.
  • Rooftop installations: Thanks to its ability to generate small quantities of energy at multiple feed-in points, rooftop solar panels can produce decentralized energy, thus limiting the costs of upgrading grids and pooling electrical production variations across a large number of installations. This programme aims to lift barriers to its development.
  • Solar e-mobility: Solar e-mobility technologies (including roads, vehicles and scooters) are seeing very rapid development. This programme seeks to develop these applications and promote their deployment, including through energy storage, and to harmonize practices across the countries taking part in the programme.

What took place at the ISA summit?

21 heads of State and government, 6 vice-presidents or vice-prime ministers, 19 ministers and representatives of international organizations, 10 development banks, the private sector and civil society met in New Delhi on 11 March to speed up the implementation of the Alliance and achieve concrete results in terms of access to energy and combating global warming.

Achievements of the summit include:

General mobilization of government, international and private actors

  • Mobilization of ISA member countries to implement the Alliance
  • Commitments from international organizations. Signature of agreements between ISA and the United Nations Development Programme, International Energy Agency, International Renewable Energy Agency, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, African Development Bank, Green Climate Fund, European Bank for Investment, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Asian Development Bank, BRICS New Development Bank, R-20 Regions of Climate Action, among others
  • Mobilization of the private sector with the establishment of a committee of business organisations

Promotion of solar energy research and innovation

  • Establishment of a network of centres of excellence, aiming at 100 centres in the 121 countries of the ISA region (Solar Technology Application and Research Centre – STAR-C)
  • Establishment of training programmes intended for all actors of this sector, including 10,000 young technicians trained in 5 years, supported by Schneider Electric Foundation
  • Development of partnerships fostering technology transfer and innovation (signature of a cooperation agreement between The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission and the Indian National Institute for Solar Energy)

Implementation of concrete instruments

  • Fostering the transfer of knowledge and information through the launch of a collaborative “Infopedia” online platform by September with the support of the European Commission
  • Publication of a practical guide to ensure high-quality standards
  • Online publication of standard documents to facilitate the purchase of electricity in public tenders and supply processes by June 2018 with the support of the International Renewable Energy Agency

Financing of new solar energy projects

  • Financial commitments by public and private stakeholders:
    • the French Agency for Development committed to invest 700 million euros for solar projects by 2022, bringing its total commitment to 1 billion euros since the creation of the ISA
    • India committed to extending nearly 1.4 billion dollars’ worth of lines of credit, which will cover 27 projects in 15 countries
  • Support for 100 initial projects
  • Setting up of a common guarantee mechanism

What’s next?

ISA member countries have drawn up a road map and regular milestones to accelerate the development of solar energy. The first ISA Assembly of Ministers, co-chaired by France and India, will be held in New Delhi in the coming months. A progress review on the abovementioned commitments will be presented at COP24 in Poland.

Last modified on 16/03/2018

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