Once in a while on this planet, one can witness arch rivals coming together, shaking hands on a common platform, and working towards a´common´ goal - combating climate change is one such common global agreement. The credit for this global rapprochement goes to none other than India for forming the International Solar Alliance, aka ISA. But what was the need to create a separate body, just for the solar industry?
The reason: there is no body in place to address the specific technology deployment needs of the solar resource rich countries located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Most of these countries are geographically in the right location for optimal absorption of the sun´s rays. There is a great amount of sunlight around the year, which can lead to cost-effective solar power for end users, with high solar insolation of almost 300 sunny days in a year. Most of these countries have large agrarian populations. Again, many countries face gaps in the potential solar energy manufacturing ecosystem. Absence of universal energy access, energy inequity and power affordability are issues common to most of these solar resource rich countries.
Here, I would fall back on the dictum - ´with great power comes great responsibility´ -while describing ISA. The ISA has had a major role to play in countries agreeing to long-term goals to limit increase in global temperatures, by submitting a comprehensive Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) following the COP21 meet in November 2015. Now, whether INDCs will be achievable or not is matter of debate, as a few countries including India, China and the EU have been relatively less ambitious in their targets versus nations like South Korea, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.
To make ISA successful, India´s leadership in the solar technology field is vital. If solar technology is allowed to be disseminated on a greater scale than it is currently, its affordability would be greatly enhanced and thus funding requirements would be less onerous. Unfortunately, not much progress has been seen on this front and the Global Climate Fund (GCF) has been relatively slow in providing the required resources. Developed countries should make the necessary effort to live up to their pledges of contributing $100 billion annually to support the INDCs, particularly those of developing nations.
One possible model to create conditions for Indian companies, with the support of the Government of India, is to provide electricity supply services through solar technologies in ISA participant countries. With the spread of such a model, the costs of electricity can be made more affordable and economic growth will be consequently boosted, which would allow for the enhancement of the quality of life in general in less prosperous nations.