Explained | International Solar Alliance

At present, 116 countries are signatories to the ISA Framework Agreement. Photo: AFP

India is hosting the Sixth Session of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Assembly at Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi from October 30 to November 2.

The inaugural session was presided over by the Union Minister for Power and New & Renewable Energy R.K. Singh in his capacity as the president of the ISA Assembly. 

Ministers from 20 countries and delegates from across 116 members and signatory countries are  participating in the Assembly.

The International Solar Alliance (ISA) has decided to increase the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for renewable projects to 35 per cent.

The Viability Gap Funding is a mechanism to support infrastructure projects that are economically justified but fall marginally short of financial viability.

Under its Viability Gap Funding (VGF) mechanism, ISA provides 10 per cent or $150,000 (whichever is lower) of the project cost to the member nation for an identified renewable energy project.

International Solar Alliance

• International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an inter-governmental treaty-based organisation with a global mandate to catalyse solar growth by helping to reduce the cost of financing and technology.

• The ISA was jointly launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande on November 30, 2015, in Paris on the sidelines of the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC.

• The ISA Framework Agreement was opened for signature on November 15, 2016, in Marrakech, Morocco, on the sidelines of COP22.

• With the signing and ratification of the ISA Framework Agreement by 15 countries on December 6, 2017, ISA became the first international inter-governmental organisation to be headquartered in India.  

• On March 11, 2018, Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron co-hosted the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

• Membership is open to those solar resource-rich states that lie fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, and are members of the UN.

• ISA was conceived as a coalition of solar-resource-rich countries (which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn) to address their special energy needs. 

• The vision and mission of the ISA is to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar-resource-rich countries, through which the global community, including governments, bilateral and multilateral organisations, corporates, industry, and other stakeholders, can contribute to help achieve the common goal of increasing the use and quality of solar energy in meeting energy needs of prospective ISA member countries in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner.

• At present, 116 countries are signatories to the ISA Framework Agreement, of which 94 countries have submitted the necessary instruments of ratification to become full members of the ISA.

• ISA has been positioned to help create the conditions that would make funding, developing and deploying solar applications on a large scale a reality. 

• ISA is now perceived as key to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

• ISA 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 solutions through solar energy, especially in the least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Objectives of ISA:

• To address obstacles that stand in the way of rapid and massive scale-up of solar energy.

• To undertake innovative and concerted efforts for reducing the cost of finance and cost of technology for immediate deployment of competitive solar generation.

• To mobilise more than $1,000 billion of investments by 2030. 

• Reduce the cost of finance to increase investments in solar energy in member countries by promoting innovative financial mechanisms and mobilising 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.

Assembly of the ISA

• The Assembly of the ISA is the apex decision-making body which deliberates on critical matters like ISA objectives, its functioning, approval of operating budget, assessment of the implementation of various initiatives, programmes and activities of ISA and others. 

• The First Assembly of the ISA, held on October 3, 2018, adopted the amendment to the Framework Agreement to expand the scope of ISA membership to all member countries of the United Nations.

• The Assembly meets annually at the ministerial level at the ISA’s seat.

• India holds the office of the President of the ISA Assembly, with France as the co-president.

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