“During the sidelines of African Development Bank’s annual meeting
in Gandhinagar the world’s smallest republic, the tiny island nation
of Nauru — has become the sixth country to ratify the International
Solar Alliance (ISA) Framework pact. Five more African nations —
Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Ghana and Djibouti — have
committed to sign the Solar Alliance pact.
In this article we shall have an overview of ISA with special focus on
pivotal role of India in forming the alliance. Secondly we shall analyze
the importance of such a small country joining the alliance.”
There is no specific body in place to address the specific solar 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 located for optimal
absorption of the sun’s rays. There is a great amount of sunlight year-round which
can lead to cost effective solar power and other end uses with high insolation of
almost 300 sunny days in a year. Most of the countries have large agrarian populations.
Many countries face gaps in the potential solar energy manufacturing eco-system.
Absence of universal energy access, energy equity and affordability are issues
common to most of the solar resource rich countries. Thus the concept of International
Solar Alliance was proposed.
About International Solar Alliance
International Solar Alliance (ISA) is conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich
countries. It will not duplicate or replicate the efforts that others [like International
Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Partnership (REEEP), International Energy Agency (IEA), Renewable Energy Policy
Network for the 21st Century (REN21), United Nations bodies, bilateral organizations
etc.] are currently engaged in, but will establish networks and develop synergies with
them and supplement their efforts in a sustainable and focused manner.
The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization. Countries that do not
fall within the Tropics can join the ISA and enjoy all benefits as other members, with
the exception of voting rights.
To achieve the objectives, ISA will have five key focus areas:
- It will encourage member countries to promote investment in solar technologies/
applications to promote income and welfare of the poor and make global
environment more climate friendly;
- Formulate projects and programmes to promote solar applications together and
with partnership of member countries and with cooperation from international
organizations to ensure solar light for energy deprived households by the year
- Develop innovative Financial Mechanisms through long tenure financial resources
from bilateral, multilateral agencies and other sources to reduce cost of capital;
- Build a knowledge platform, including a 24×7 e-portal for sharing of policy
development experiences and best practices in member countries; and
- To promote partnerships among R&D centres of member countries for
application oriented research & development and delivering technologies to
people as well as capacity building through training & educational programmes
and exchange of officials/ entrepreneurs/sector experts/ students/interns/
apprentices, user groups etc
These focus areas will cater to not just grid connected solar power (Solar parks, Solar
thermal projects, Rooftop solar projects, Canal top projects, Solar on water bodies,
Farmers and unemployed youths as generators) but also off-grid and decentralised
applications (Village electrification and mini-grids, Solar lanterns, Mobile chargers,
Solar powered telecom towers, Milk chilling centres, Potters wheels, Solar spinner
for weavers, street lights, Solar pumps, Solar heating/cooling, etc.). These activities
will contribute significantly in employment generation in a decentralized manner at
the local levels, and also in spurring economic activities.
Hence with this initiative solar energy will be utilized for economic development
- It creates a collaborative platform for increased deployment of solar energy
technologies to enhance energy security and sustainable development
- It improves access to energy and opportunities for better livelihoods in rural and
remote areas and to increase the standard of living.
- It will work with partner countries to formulate projects and programmes to
accelerate development and deployment of existing clean solar energy
technologies, the potential for which largely remaining untapped.
- It develops innovative financial mechanisms to reduce cost of capital and builds
a common knowledge e-Portal.
- It also facilitates capacity building for promotion and absorption of solar
technologies and Research and Development among member countries.
- It will encourage multilateral bodies like IRENA, REEEP, IEA, REN21, UN
bodies, bilateral organizations, corporates, industry, and other stakeholders to
contribute towards the goal of increasing utilization of solar energy in the member
Role of India in ISA
The initiative was launched by India at the India Africa Summit, and a meeting of
member countries ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in
Paris in November 2015. The Framework Agreement of the International Solar Alliance
opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016, and 121 countries
have joined (though may not have ratified). The ISA is to be headquartered in India.
India has earmarked about $2 billion to finance solar projects in Africa out of it
commitment to provide $10 billion of concessional lines of credit for projects in the
Significance of Nauru signing the Deal
Nauru is a tiny island country in Micronesia, northeast of Australia in Central Pacific.
Nauru, which has a population of just 10,000-odd and the highest point on its terrain
is only 65 metres above sea level, is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of
climate change. For example a rise in temperature and consequent melting of ice
would result in increase sea level and possible submergence of the island.
Nauru has a hot and humid climate due to its proximity to the Equator this makes
solar energy a viable option. Currently, 30 per cent of the country’s needs are met
through solar power installations and it has set a target to attain 50 per cent of energy
production from renewable sources by 2020. In this context membership of solar
alliance will assist small nation to achieve its target through R&D assistance and
foreign Investments in solar sector.
Fiji, which had signed up earlier, has also completed the ratification process and will
deposit its instrument in the next few weeks.
Ratification by Island nations also sends a strong signal to the global communities
about the sincerity of the Island Nations towards their concern about climate change
and to switch to a low-carbon growth path.
Climate change is not specific to any country but a challenge for the whole humanity.
So, finding solutions to stop it is a combined responsibility for all countries and
formation of ISA epitomize such a spirit. It gives a space to small Island nations to
raise their concerns and at the same time ripe benefit of this alliance to leverage their
solar energy targets. Nauru ratification of ISA treaty is a step in this direction