International solar alliance – All you need to know

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ISA has been envisioned as a specialized platform and will contribute towards the common goal of increasing utilization and promotion of solar energy and solar applications in its member countries.

  • The International Solar Alliance, envisaged to bring together 122 countries that lie wholly or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn,
  • It is an initiative announced by Mr. Modi at the COP 21 Summit in Paris in November.
  • The member countries are to be those that enjoy 300 or more days in a year of bright sunlight.
  • International Solar Alliance (ISA ) is conceived as a
    • coalition of solar resource rich countries
    • lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn
    • to address their special energy needs and
    • will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.


  • The overarching objective is to create a collaborative platform for increased deployment of solar energy technologies to enhance energy security & sustainable development; improve access to energy and opportunities for better livelihoods in rural and remote areas and to increase the standard of living.

ISA Focus Area

To achieve the objectives, ISA will have five key focus areas:-

  1. Promote solar technologies and investment in the solar sector to enhance income generation for the poor and global environment:
  2. Formulate projects and programmes to promote solar applications:
  3. Develop innovative Financial Mechanisms to reduce cost of capital
  4. Build a common Knowledge e-Portal
  5. Facilitate capacity building for promotion and absorption of solar technologies and R&D among member countries

Important Activities

To achieve the above overarching objectives, ISA, by way of supplementing the national efforts of the member countries, through appropriate means will undertake following activities:-

  1. Collaborations for joint research, development and demonstration, sharing information and knowledge, capacity building, supporting technology hubs and creating networks;
  2. Acquisition, diffusion and indigenization and absorption of knowledge, technology and skills by local stakeholders in the member countries;
  3. Creation of expert groups for development of common standards, test, monitoring and verification protocols;
  4. Creation of partnerships among country specific technology centres for supporting technology absorption for promoting energy security and energy access;
  5. Exchange of officials/ technology specialists for participation in the training programmes on different aspects of solar energy in the member countries;
  6. Encourage companies in the member countries to set up joint ventures;
  7.  Sharing of solar energy development experiences, analysis on short- and longer-term issues in key energy supply, financing practices, business models particularly for decentralized applications and off-grid applications, including creation of local platforms focusing on implementation solutions and grass root participation;
  8. Establish new financial mechanisms to reduce cost of capital in the renewable energy sector and innovative financing to develop; and
  9. Collaborate with other multilateral bodies like International Renewable Energy Agency(IRENA), Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), International Energy Agency (IEA), Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN), United Nations bodies; bilateral organizations; Corporates, industry, and other stakeholders can contribute towards the goal of increasing utilization of solar energy in ISA member countries.

Governance Structure

  • ISA is proposed to be a multi country partnership organization with membership from solar resource rich countries between the two tropics.
  • ISA’s proposed governance structure would consist of an Assembly, a Council and a Secretariat. However, it will be subject to member countries’ deliberations and suggestions. The Assembly will provide guidance, direction and advice to the Secretariat for undertaking the activities. ISA’s detailed statute will be developed in consultation with member countries.
  • Government of India (GoI) will support ISA by hosting its Secretariat for an initial period of five years and thereafter it is expected to generate its own resources and become self-financing.

Financial Sustainability

  • The total Government of India support including putting normative cost of the land will be about Rs 400 crore (US$ 62 million).
  • Government of India support of Rs 175 crore(US$ 27 million) will be utilized for creating building infrastructure and recurring expenditure. It will be provided over a 5 year period from 2016-17 to 2020-21.
  • Until another building is constructed, ISA will also use the newly built “Surya Bhawan” [Sun House] for its operations.

The headquarters of the International Solar Alliance will come up on a 5-acre plot on the National Institute of Solar Energy campus in Gurgaon. 

New developments

  • Union Minister of State Renewable Energy and Ms. Ségolène Royal, French Minister of Environment, Energy and the Sea, in charge of International Relations on Climate and President of COP21 co-chaired a Ministerial Side Event on International Solar Alliance (ISA) at Headquarters of the United Nations in New York
  • The Two Programmes of the ISA “Affordable finance at scale”; and Programme “Scaling solar applications for agricultural use”, were launched during the event.
  • In order to accelerate massive deployment of solar energy at various scales in their countries, Ministers agreed to take concerted action through targeted Programmes launched on a voluntary basis, to better harmonize and aggregate the demand for:
  1. Solar finance-  so as to lower the cost of finance and facilitate the flow of more than US $ 1000 billion investment in solar assets in member countries;
  2. Mature solar technologies – that are currently deployed only at small scale and need to be scaled up;
  3. Future solar technologies and capacity building, through strategic and collaborative solar R&D, to improve the efficiency and integration of solar power as well as increase the number of solar applications available.
  • A common buyers market for solar finance, technology, innovation, capacity building etc., will lead to higher quality, lower costs, products better tailored to needs, collaborative innovation, technology ownership, and a more balanced dialogue with all stakeholders.
  • This will empower solar-rich countries, lying fully or partially between the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn, which share common challenges and opportunities.
  • As an initial step, Ministers agreed to start analysing and sharing the needs, objectives, and obstacles to deployment at scale along the value chain, for those applications for which they seek the benefits of collective action under the Alliance. On this basis, they will design innovative Programmes leveraging initiatives from the ground.
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