What is the Alliance? Under this alliance, 121 countries that fall within the tropics {i.e. between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn} have been invited to make collaborative efforts to harness solar energy to generate the electricity. Most of these countries fall within Asia, Africa and South America.

It was jointly announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President François Hollande on November 30, 2015 at the UN Paris Climate Change Conference.

Head Quarters:  Gurugram, Haryana.

What is the installed capacity till now? Until December 2015, 227 GW. Of which Germany, China, Japan, the U.S., and Italy accounted for 70 per cent of the of solar PV deployed globally.

Vision and mission: ISA’s vision and mission is to take solar from the lab (or rich world markets) to (developing country) streets. It is being designed as a platform to bring together countries with rich solar potential (along with solar innovators, developers, and financiers) to aggregate demand for solar across member countries, creating a global buyers’ market for solar energy, and thereby reducing prices, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity.

Objectives:

To force down prices by driving demand: Currently, the global installed capacity of solar power is around 180 GW at present. It has grown around tenfold in last one decade only. The prices of solar panels and other related equipment have gradually become very competitive, but still India and world are far from reaching the grid parity. {Grid Parity is when cost of per unit energy produced via solar or any other alternative method is equal to cost of purchasing the same from an existing electricity grid}. To achieve the grid parity, it is a prerequisite to bring down the cost of generation of solar power.

To bring standardization in solar technologies:  in the manufacturing of the solar panels and other solar technologies, so that the prices can fall substantially. The countries can also come together in technological innovation also to bring down the prices.

To foster research and development: Currently, there is no way to store the electricity being produced by solar systems due to which it has not established itself as reliable energy source. a technology breakthrough is awaited in the field of storage of energy.

Three factors continue to block the rapid scale-up of solar energy

Financing is still too costly for developers:  ISA envisions that collective measures can facilitate the flow of over $1 trillion into solar projects, by aggregating demand within countries, standardised asset-structuring across countries, and establishing an ecosystem of financial instruments to mitigate some of the investment risks.

Solar-related plans and policies are often incoherent and increase risks for developers and investors: Many technology applications are already commercially viable, if promoted through innovative business models (such as fees-for-service for solar home systems, community ownership of assets like solar pumps, etc), decentralised energy businesses might not scale in the traditional sense, but could be replicated across many geographies. Investors are likely to draw more confidence in a group of countries that followed similar procedures on, say, reverse auctions to allocate solar projects, or standardised templates for power purchase agreements. Developers could find opportunities to scale operations in other countries. ISA could help to coordinate these policies.

There is insufficient research and development (R&D) investment in solar: in order to avoid the trap of getting locked into existing technologies, there needs to be collaborative, cross-country R&D, which ISA hopes to facilitate. Whereas the major solar powers are already investing in R&D, collaborative research would pool resources in cash and kind, and offer more markets in which to test technologies. ISA R&D prizes and advance market commitments could be announced to stimulate research in preselected areas, such as increasing the efficiency of solar panels or reducing the costs of manufacturing in developing countries.

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