New Delhi: The Sixth Assembly of the International Solar Alliance is being held in New Delhi from October 30 – November 2, 2023. The Assembly will be presided over by the President, ISA Assembly and Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy, Government of Bharat, R.K. Singh. Ministers, missions and delegates from 116 Member and Signatory Countries of the ISA will participate, along with delegates from prospective countries, partner organisations, private sector and other stakeholders. The ISA was launched jointly by India and France after COP21 in Paris.
The Sixth Assembly of the ISA is deliberating on ISA initiatives that impact energy access, energy security and energy transitions, with a focus on:
- Universalisation of energy access through solar mini-grids
- Mobilising Finance for accelerated solar deployment
- Diversifying supply chains and manufacturing for solar
- Power and New & Renewable Energy
The Union Minister for Power, New and Renewable Energy in his capacity as President of ISA interacted with Embassy officials of the countries participating in the forthcoming 6th Assembly meeting. Speaking at a curtain raiser press conference in New Delhi on October 31, R. K. Singh said that the International Solar Alliance has a seminal role to play in energy transition given its focus on solar energy. “Our experience shows that among renewable sources, solar has the edge; it is much more dependable, reliable and available for more months of the year,” the Minister added.
The Minister said that solar energy is also capable of being deployed in small sizes which makes it the best suited for ensuring energy access. “When we launched our campaign for universal access to energy, solar played a major role. It is using solar that we lighted many homes in the hills and in the deserts. It has ability to be deployed for specific villages in mini-grids. For universal access, solar is the solution. That is what makes ISA important,” the Minister said.
Primary Role of International Solar Alliance
Minister Singh further said that the salience of ISA lies also in energy transition for the South. “The challenge lies in providing energy to the 750 million people who do not have access to energy. The conscience of the world needs to be stirred. Even in the past 5 – 6 years of existence of ISA, we don’t see countries which are capable of helping coming forward to help these 750 million people. It is our mission in ISA to bring together to help these 750 million people. That is how we define our role – to help countries deprived of energy access, get access to energy.”
Energy access & energy transition
The Minister shared the government’s belief that energy access is central to any energy transition. “We cannot have energy transition without energy access. And access has to be clean access as it should not be at the cost of the planet. That is what ISA has been doing. We advise countries how to do this, how to do electrification using solar, we help them set up regulatory structures, and physical structures such as generation being linked to transmission and distribution. We make experts available and ISA bears the cost.” The Minister emphasised that the most important contribution of the ISA would be to ensure that investment goes to countries of the South.
Stressing on the effectiveness of ISA as an organisation at the global level, R. K. Singh informed that the ISA has 116 signatories, out of which 94 have ratified and this is much bigger than other energy organizations like IEA. “ISA is international and intercontinental and it is growing. We believe it has a salient role to play in energy transition.”
The Union Power & NRE Minister also informed that 96 countries have already registered to participate in the 6th ISA Assembly, out of which 20 are Ministers. “Other organizations such as multilateral development banks and other stakeholders too will participate. We propose to hold the Assembly in Bharat Mandapam which has just hosted the G20,” Shri Singh said.
Renewable energy capacity
Replying to a media question, the Minister said that there is almost complete unanimity across the world that energy transition has to be done and that emissions have to be reduced as soon as possible. “The pace of emissions reduction is not as fast as it used to be. Time is running out. Global temperature has already risen by 1.01 degree Celsius. As far as transition is concerned, solar is playing a major role. Capacity addition in solar is outstripping that happening in any other form of renewable energy.”
The Minister said that hydro has an essential role to play in energy transition. “Hydro has a role in balancing the grid. Many countries have more than 50 per cent of their energy coming from hydro and it is working well. By and large, hydro has stood the test of time, we have had hydro projects which have been functioning since the 60s and 70s.”
“Sustainable and modern energy for all”: Bhupinder Singh Bhalla, Secretary, New & Renewable Energy
Secretary, New & Renewable Energy, Bhupinder Singh Bhalla said that the number of countries who have signed and ratified the ISA Framework Agreement has doubled from 47 to 94 since the year 2018. Another 22 countries have signed and are in the process of ratifying the Agreement, added the Secretary.
Bhalla said that ISA’s objectives are to ensure energy transition at the global level, energy security at the national level and energy access at the local level. “India believes that these objectives will ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy to all. ISA is well-suited to bring these changes in its member counties. ISA’s programmes cover the complete spectrum of solar applications and technologies. The ISA is also providing financial assistance of grants up to US $ 50,000 for demonstration projects which showcase solar potential. ISA is also facilitating availability of trained human resources through STAR-C initiative. The Virtual Green Hydrogen Innovation Centre was launched steered by ISA has been launched at the Energy Transitions Ministerial Meeting in July under India’s G20 Presidency. As we move forward, India remains steadfast in its commitment for expansion and strengthening of ISA.”
Addressing the media, Director General of International Solar Alliance. Dr. Ajay Mathur said that the ISA is supporting the growth of 9.5 GW solar energy in projects across the world. “More important than is supporting the institutional development for these projects. This involves setting up institutional infrastructure for bidding, framing of regulations, demonstration projects and capacity for running the projects. There are various kinds of capacity building programmes which are underway. We look forward to creating a lot more STAR-C centres focussed on development of national programmes within the countries. Next year at the Assembly, we hope to see approval of projects in various countries.”
Investment in solar energy
Speaking about investment in solar energy, the DG, ISA informed that solar witnessed an investment of US$ 310 billion last year and that it is expected to be US$ 380 billion this year. “This compares favourably with the highest investment in electricity generation sector at the height of the fossil fuel boom. So, these are large numbers.”
Investment in developing countries
The DG said that the problem is that most of the investment is happening in OECD countries and in China. “We need to hence address how the rest of the world can adopt solar. Two, most of the investment is happening in large solar; we need to also focus on how we get to small solar such as solar rooftops and solar mini-grids off the ground. Third, there is a concentration of manufacturing in one or two countries; we need to see how we can make this more geographically diversified.”
Global stocktake at COP28
The DG said that the ISA is planning to perform a solar stocktake which will complement the global stocktake which is set to take place during COP28. “We are moving ahead on supporting COP Presidency in tripling of renewable energy goal and in doing solar stocktake which will complement the global stocktake which will occur at COP28. One training has already happened in Africa, at the same venue of the African Green Hydrogen Association meeting. We are also looking forward at new programmes such as Solar for She, which will look at renewable energy in women, our goal is that more women become entrepreneurs in the solar sector. We will update the Assembly about Global Solar Facility and SolarX Startup Challenge.”
The ISA Secretariat has also planned a High-level Conference on New Technologies for Clean Energy Transition in collaboration with the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India; the Asian Development Bank, and the International Solar Energy Society, on November 1, 2023. The conference will focus on various issues concerning climate change and solar energy deployment.
ISA will also be releasing three flagship reports providing updates on Solar Technology, Solar Market and Solar Investments.
World Solar Technology Report 2023 focuses on solar photovoltaics (solar PV), highlighting the remarkable advancements in crystalline silicon technology. Solar PV has experienced exceptional growth, expected to capture 56.4 per cent of total renewable energy share by 2050. Crystalline silicon technology dominates the market with a 98% share; in particular, monocrystalline and emerging technologies like organic PV and perovskite PV hold promise for the future.
World Solar Market Report 2023 offers a comprehensive analysis of the evolution of the solar market, from its European origins to its current leadership in the Asia-Pacific region, registering a remarkable 37 per cent compound annual growth rate, significant market expansion in 2022 and changing regional dynamics in solar adoption.
World Solar Investment Report 2023 highlights the surge in global solar investments in 2022, exceeding $300 billion (a 36 per cent increase from 2021). Asia Pacific, Europe and North America led the way, with China, Germany, and the USA as top investment destinations. To ensure a robust solar future, the report argues that we must invest in grid infrastructure and storage, diversify supply chains, and prioritize emerging markets for inclusive energy transition.
International Solar Alliance Assembly
The ISA Assembly is the apex decision-making body of ISA, in which each Member Country is represented. This body makes decisions concerning the implementation of the ISA’s Framework Agreement and coordinated actions to be taken to achieve its objectives. The Assembly meets annually at the ministerial level at the ISA’s seat. It assesses the aggregate effect of the programmes and other activities in terms of deployment of solar energy, performance, reliability, cost and scale of finance.
109 countries are signatories to the ISA Framework Agreement, of which 90 countries have submitted the necessary instruments of ratification to become full members of the ISA. The Republic of India holds the office of the President of the ISA Assembly, with the Government of the French Republic as the co-president.
About International Solar Alliance
The International Solar Alliance is an international organisation with 109 member countries. It works with governments to improve energy access and security worldwide and promote solar power as a sustainable way to transition to a carbon-neutral future. ISA’s mission is to unlock US$ 1 trillion of investments in solar by 2030 while reducing the cost of the technology and its financing. It promotes the use of solar energy in the Agriculture, Health, Transport and Power Generation sectors.
ISA member countries are driving change by enacting policies and regulations, sharing best practices, agreeing on common standards, and mobilising investments. Through this work, ISA has identified, designed and tested new business models for solar projects; supported governments to make their energy legislation and policies solar-friendly through Ease of Doing Solar analytics and advisory; pooled demand for solar technology from different countries, and drove down costs; improved access to finance by reducing the risks and making the sector more attractive to private investment; increased access to solar training, data and insights for solar engineers and energy policymakers.
ISA was formed at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Paris in 2015 and is partnering with multilateral development banks (MDBs), development financial institutions (DFIs), private and public sector organisations, civil society, and other international institutions to deploy cost-effective and transformational energy solutions powered by the sun, especially in the least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). (With Inputs from PIB)