The Sixth Assembly of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) convened in New Delhi, presided over by Shri Raj Kumar Singh, India’s Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy, who holds the position of ISA Assembly President. This significant event attracted participation from ministers representing 20 countries and delegates from a staggering 116 Member and Signatory nations.
In his address, Shri Raj Kumar Singh highlighted the pivotal role renewable energy plays in addressing the pressing global issue of reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Currently, approximately 80% of the world’s population resides in countries heavily reliant on fossil fuel imports, encompassing a staggering 6 billion people. He emphasized the potential of renewable energy sources to supply 65% of the world’s total electricity by 2030 and to decarbonize 90% of the power sector by 2050.
The ISA is unwavering in its commitment to member countries to make solar energy the primary energy source, foster investment-friendly environments, and ensure a substantial energy supply to meet the surging global demand. To facilitate this, the ISA employs a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) mechanism, which provides a grant of up to USD 150,000 or 35% of the project cost (whichever is lower) for each country’s project. The Assembly decided to extend the range to 35% of the project cost, tailored to the capacities and needs of each country and its respective projects.
The Co-President of the Assembly, H.E. Ms. Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, France’s Minister of State for Development, Francophonie, and International Partnerships, expressed France’s commitment to combat climate disruptions through clean energy development. France has been a strong supporter of the ISA and has actively funded solar projects, allocating over 1.5 billion euros since 2016. France’s dedication extends to providing climate finance to partners, with over 7.5 billion euros allocated last year. These funds are not just numbers; they translate into tangible projects, such as the Onigbolo solar power plant in Benin, which brought 25 MW of clean energy to the people of Benin. France also assists its partners in developing and financing their fair energy transition plans, aligning with national agendas and priorities.
Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General of the International Solar Alliance, stressed the urgency of accelerating solar energy development in developing countries, particularly in applications that impact the daily lives of those without reliable energy access. The ISA is actively facilitating over 9.5 gigawatts of solar applications across 55 developing nations, including the least developed countries and small island developing states. The organization has already trained nearly 4,000 individuals across the developing world on how to derive livelihoods from supporting solar energy.
The ISA is also working on establishing STAR Centres in member countries to serve as hubs of technology, knowledge, and expertise on solar energy. Furthermore, the ISA is supporting solar mini-grids to provide universal energy access, especially where extending the traditional power grid is cost-prohibitive. The organization has developed a mechanism to provide guarantees through its Global Solar Facility to encourage private sector investment in its member countries in Africa.
In May 2020, the ISA initiated Demonstration Projects to showcase scalable solar technology applications and build the capacity of beneficiary member countries. Shri RK Singh, India’s Minister of Power and New & Renewable Energy, inaugurated four projects supported by the ISA:
Solarization of the parliament building of the Republic of Malawi.
Solarization of two rural health care centers in the Republic of Fiji, each equipped with an 8-kilowatt solar PV system and 20-kilowatt-hour battery storage.
Installation of a solar-powered cold storage facility with a 5-ton capacity for agricultural stakeholders on La Digue Island, Republic of Seychelles.
Solarization of the Nawai Junior Secondary school (JSS) in the Republic of Kiribati, featuring a 7-kilowatt Solar PV rooftop system paired with a 24-kilowatt-hour battery storage system.
Shri Singh expressed his honor and privilege in dedicating these projects to the Republic of Malawi, the Republic of Fiji, the Republic of Seychelles, and the Republic of Kiribati. Each project was supported with a grant of USD 50,000 from the ISA. He underscored the significance of sharing successes and challenges among member countries to collectively advance the cause of energy transition through solar energy.
The ISA Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the organization, meets annually at the ministerial level to assess and advance programs and initiatives related to solar energy deployment, performance, reliability, cost, and financial scale. The Sixth Assembly of the ISA has been deliberating on key initiatives focused on three critical issues: energy access, energy security, and energy transition. The International Solar Alliance continues to play a crucial role in promoting and advancing the adoption of solar energy worldwide, serving as a beacon of hope for a sustainable and greener future.