International Solar Alliance gets a home in India

It also gets initial funding from Indian agencies and a 300 million euro pledge from France, though that is a small percentage of the 1,200 billion euros needed
<p>Modi and Hollande lay the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance headquarters in Gurgaon, Haryana. (Courtesy: Press Information Bureau, Government of India) </p>

Modi and Hollande lay the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance headquarters in Gurgaon, Haryana. (Courtesy: Press Information Bureau, Government of India)

France will provide 300 million euros (22 billion Indian rupees) to the International Solar Alliance (ISA) mooted by India and launched at the Paris climate summit last year.

The announcement was made by France’s President Francois Hollande when — along with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi — he laid the foundation stone of the ISA headquarters and inaugurated an interim secretariat at Gurgaon, adjacent to the Indian capital New Delhi.

Hollande is in India as the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day parade. The money will be paid by the French government’s development agency over the next five years.

The challenge now is to raise the 1,200 billion euros (88,150 billion Indian rupees) estimated to be necessary to meet the ISA’s global target of generating 1,000 gigawatts of solar power by 2030. That means this capacity will have to be installed in the next ten years or so. Around 5,000 megawatts were installed in India last year.

Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency and Solar Energy Corporation announced initial contributions of US$ 1 million (68 million Indian rupees) each to kick start the alliance and make it easier to approach international financial institutions.

Speaking on the occasion, Modi said, “Developing countries will need to develop. If we generate energy from fossil fuels, it impacts the environment. But if we don’t generate energy, darkness will remain in our lives. So innovations for sustainable development are the way out.”

The French president urged those in charge of the ISA to begin projects quickly. One planning meeting of the alliance had been held in Paris during the climate summit and a steering committee of 22 countries had been formed. A second meeting was held in Abu Dhabi in mid-January.

Read also: See India needs to accelerate International Solar Alliance

All countries are expected to sign the Paris agreement that came out of the climate summit at the United Nations headquarters by April 22 this year. Hollande wanted all countries to make a political declaration at the same time to underscore their support for the ISA. He would like the first projects to be launched by then.

Calling the ISA a “life giver for humanity for decades to come,” Modi said it would be an “international organisation” like the World Health Organisation or the United Nations, “headquartered in India”.

According to the Prime Minister, the ISA was one of the two major initiatives launched at the Paris climate summit — the other was by the US and France on innovation on how to fight global warming.

The ISA had started with the idea of having all countries between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn as its members, but has since grown to 120 countries. Hollande expressed happiness about the quick start to an idea first mooted less than a year ago.

Referring to the Paris agreement reached at the December 2015 climate summit, Hollande said, “France wants to build the post-Paris agreement world with India. ISA paves the way for this. It will enable us to translate climate justice into action.”

Many Indian observers have been unhappy with the Paris agreement because of what they think is insufficient emphasis on climate justice — a concept under which should have the same atmospheric space to fulfil their energy needs as the developed countries have had already.

Hollande had clearly been briefed about what would make the predominantly Indian audience happy. He said, “The ISA is a fine idea from a country where for millennia, yoga practitioners have greeted the sun every morning so that it shares its energy with the earth.” He was referring to the yoga exercise called Surya Namaskar (salutation to the sun).