Observer Status to International Solar Alliance(ISA)

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    Recently, the UN General Assembly has conferred Observer Status to the International Solar Alliance (ISA)

    Expected benefits of granting observer Status to ISA

    • The granting of Observer Status to ISA in the General Assembly would help provide for regular and well-defined cooperation between the Alliance and the United Nations that would benefit global energy growth and development.
    • It would help ISA to expand its network through setting up a trans-national grid –One Sun One Work One Grid (OSOWOG).

    About International Solar Alliance (ISA)

    • The ISA was conceived as a joint effort by India and France to mobilise efforts against climate change through the deployment of solar energy solutions. 
    • It was presented by the leaders of the two countries at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Paris in 2015.
    • Headquarters: India 
    • The Assembly is the apex decision-making body of the ISA. It meets annually at the Ministerial level at the seat of the ISA.
    • Membership: A total of 80 countries have signed and ratified the ISA Framework Agreement and 101 countries have only signed the agreement

    Features 

    • ISA provides a dedicated platform for cooperation among Governments, multilateral organisations, industry, and other stakeholders to help achieve a common goal.
    • It assists member countries in finding suitable bilateral or multilateral funding.
    • ISA does not explicitly provide funds or technology and it helps create conditions that make funding, developing and deploying solar applications on a large scale possible

    Objectives 

    • To achieve the common goal of increasing the use and quality of solar energy in meeting the energy needs of prospective ISA member countries in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner.
    • To mobilize investments of more than USD 1000 billion by 2030.
    • Reduce the cost of finance to increase investments in solar energy in member countries by promoting innovative financial mechanisms and mobilizing finance from Institutions;
    • Facilitate collaborative research and development (R&D) activities in solar energy technologies among member countries.
    • Promote a common cyber platform for networking, cooperation and exchange of ideas among member countries.

    Challenges

    • Funding: Providing the money for promoting solar electricity among the members is a challenge. 
      • The Alliance has very little money of its own. And the priority of multilateral banking institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank and the New Development Bank etc. is different. 
    • Expensive: The cost of power has two components. The variable cost is the payment made for the number of units of electricity purchased. 
      • In addition, the buyer is required to pay a certain amount towards the fixed cost of solar supply. 
    • Storage: Solar electricity is available only during the day when the sun shines. Thus, the storage of electricity is a difficult task.
    • Transmission Roadblocks: Solar electricity has to overcome the roadblocks of transmission.  
      • Cross-border transmission of electricity requires the establishment of transmission lines from the producer to the consumer country. These lines have to be dedicated to specific countries.
    • Availability during peak hours: The demand for electricity, however, is more during the morning and evening which are called “peak hours”. But it can be produced when the sun is shining.
    • Recycling of waste: Silicon is present in the solar panels. The challenge is to develop methods for reusing silicon for making new panels.

    Initiatives of ISA:

    • ISA STAR C:
      • The ISA Secretariat launched the ISA Solar Technology and Application Resource Centre (ISTAR C) to support capacity-building efforts in the ISA member countries through training. 
    • ISA solar Fellowship for Mid-Career Professionals:
      • Under this scheme, fellowships in the field of solar energy management are offered to mid-career professionals from ISA countries for pursuing a master’s degree in renewable energy management and economics. 
      • It aims to contribute towards the long-term development needs of member countries, through the creation of skilled and qualified professional manpower for the management of solar energy projects, programmes and policies. 
    • Infopedia:
    • It is an online platform dedicated to the dissemination of information, best practices and knowledge on Solar Energy. 
    • This project is supported by the EU and is likely to be launched in October 2019.
    • In October 2020, the Assembly approved institutionalizing ISA’s engagement with the private and public corporate sector through the Coalition for Sustainable Climate Action (CSCA).
    • In the wake of the global pandemic, ISA responded by setting up ISA CARES (like PM-CARES in India), an initiative dedicated to the deployment of solar energy in the healthcare sector. 
      • The initiative aims to solarize one primary health sector in each district of the target member countries.
    • The ISA has signed a tripartite agreement with the World Bank and the Government of India and is now actively involved in preparing a vision and implementation plan for the “One Sun, One World, One Grid” Initiative to harness the power of interconnected grids for enabling energy transition to a low-carbon world.
    • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) signed a memorandum of understanding at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, agreeing to collaborate and support countries in the implementation of ambitious national climate action in line with global efforts.
    • Various solar awards were conferred like –  
      • Visvesvaraya award for recognizing the countries with a maximum floating solar capacity, 
      • Kalpana Chawla award for the outstanding contribution of scientists and engineers working in the field of solar energy and
      • Diwakar award recognizes organizations and institutions that have been working for the benefit of differently-abled people and have maximized the use of solar energy in the host country.

    Way Forward

    • India could initiate the establishment of an international electricity transmission grid
    • The revolution in the deployment of solar energy is there due to rapidly growing demand. Thus, the need is to undertake research to reduce the cost of storage of electricity.
    • India should take a lead to establish a new multilateral bank dedicated to the promotion of solar power. 
    • A solar power waste recycling business can be developed on the lines of ship breaking business. India has to invest in research on the reuse of silicon extracted from used solar panels.
    • India and the world could do well together in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly through the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

    Source: TH