New Delhi: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron co-hosted the first edition of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Summit at Rashtrapati Bhavan today, the spotlight was on India which is being viewed as a key player in tapping solar energy. PM Modi has presented a 10-point action plan to make affordable solar technology available to all nations, which included raising the share of electricity generated from photovoltaic cells in the energy mix, framing of regulations and standards and consultancy support for bankable solar projects.
The prime minister also pledged to generate 175 gigawatts (GW) of electricity in India from renewable energy sources by 2022.
The solar alliance, which aims at promoting solar energy and reduction in the use of fossil fuels in energy-rich countries, was launched in November 2015 at the Paris climate summit by PM Modi and former French President Francois Hollande.
Speaking at the summit, President Macron said that while some (the US) decided just to leave the Paris Agreement, others decided to act. France will extend an extra 700 million euros ($861.5 million) through loans and donations by 2022 for solar projects in emerging economies, he said.
He along with PM Modi will open a new 100 megawatt solar plant near Varanasi tomorrow. "We should not forget that we only have one planet and we are sharing it and for that there is no alternatives. There is a joint destiny which means we also have some joint duties," President Macron said.
Solar energy generation is an expensive business and emerging markets find it difficult to fund the projects. To achieve the ISA target of over 1,000 GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over $1 trillion by 2030, PM Modi called for concessional financing and less-risky funds for such projects.
And a joint declaration signed in Delhi between the ISA and major funding agencies, the issue of support has been solved to a great extent.
The summit focused on various aspects of promoting solar energy, such as credit mechanism, crowd-funding and sharing of technological breakthroughs, in 121 prospective member countries -- 60 have signed the treaty and about 30 nations have ratified it. Twenty three heads of state, senior representatives of many countries, and ministries are participating in the summit, where various projects, including rural electrification, off grid solar power will be discussed.
In January, India crossed a little over 20 GW solar energy capacity, according to clean energy market tracker Mercom India; China's generating capacity is 130 gw. Sixty per cent of India's installed capacity comes from coal, while actual generation of electricity is 75 per cent. Renewables contribute 18 per cent. The rest comes from nuclear, biomass and other sources.
India has succeeded in lowering solar power tariffs, but there are hurdles to the ISA, with only 55 of 121 prospective countries signing up for the alliance. France is the only developed economy to support the ISA, although the World Bank has promised its support while India is taking fast strides.
In the meantime, trade wars over solar technology with countries like the US continue.