International Solar Alliance Framework Agreement

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    Denmark signed the framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance Framework Agreement (ISA FA) and Instrument of Ratification with India.

    About

    • Denmark has become the first country to ratify International Solar Alliance Framework Agreement (ISA FA) after amendments in the ISA FA entered into force on January 8, 2021.
    • The amendment was opening its Membership to all Member States of the United Nations.
    • ISA FA was opened for signatures in Marrakech, Morocco in November 2016. It was joined by 200 countries.
    • ISA was conceived as a coalition of solar-resource-rich countries.

     

    International Solar Alliance (ISA)

    • It was launched at COP21 (2015), the UN climate meeting in Paris.
    • This is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization.
    • The Headquarters is in India with its Interim Secretariat being set up in Gurugram.
    • It has 122 sun-belt countries as its prospective member countries and currently boasts a membership of 86 countries globally.
      • It is the largest grouping of states, after the United Nations.
    • The sunshine countries lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
    • Vision: Let us together make the sun brighter.
    • Mission: Every home no matter how far away, will have a light at home.
    • The Assembly is the apex decision-making body of the ISA. It meets annually at the Ministerial level at the seat of the ISA.
    • ISA is set to launch the World Solar Bank in UNFCCC COP26 scheduled in 2021.

    Purpose

    • 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.
    • ISA will establish networks and develop synergies with them and supplement their efforts in a sustainable and focused manner.
    • ISA will help the global community, including governments, bilateral and multilateral organizations, corporates, industry, and other stakeholders.

    Interests and Objectives of the ISA

    • To collectively address key common challenges to scale up solar energy applications in line with their needs;
    • To mobilize investments of more than USD 1000 billion by 2030;
    • To take coordinated action through programmes and activities launched on a voluntary basis, aimed at better harmonization, aggregation of demand, risk and resources, for promoting solar finance, solar technologies, innovation, R&D, capacity building etc.;
    • Reduce the cost of finance to increase investments in solar energy in member countries by promoting innovative financial mechanisms and mobilizing finance from Institutions;
    • Scale-up applications of solar technologies in member countries,
    • 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;

     

    Projects 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. 
      • Its primary objective is to create a skilled workforce for large-scale deployment of solar energy applications and research, development, innovation, standardisation and testing in solar energy.
    • ITEC Scheme:
      • The Government of India has been supporting the ISA by providing training to master trainers in the field of solar energy through the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Scheme. 
      • The duration of the training is 21 days and all costs are borne by the Government of India. 
      • In 2018-2019, 133 candidates from 25 countries were trained at the National Institute of Solar Energy, Gurugram, with the support of the ITEC programme.
    • ISA solar Fellowship for Mid-Career Professionals:
      • The Objective of the fellowship scheme is 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. 
      • 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. 
      • They would be expected to contribute towards policy development in their home country which in turn will help the ISA achieve its objectives.
      • 21 candidates from 18 ISA Member countries are currently pursuing a Masters degree in RE Management and Economics in the first batch that commenced on 22 July 2019.
    • 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.

    Significance

    • ISA will help India portray its global Leadership skills.
    • It will help member countries to achieve their INDCs in a proper manner.
    • Most major countries are its part, hence we can assume that global air pollution and climate change can be better handled if all member countries participate fully.
    • Its work has become so famous that the scope for its membership has been expanded from countries just between the tropics to everyone who is a member of the UN.

     

    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 numbers 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.

    Recent Initiatives of ISA:

    • 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 recently 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.
    • 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: ANI