The World Bank has operationalised a Solar Risk Mitigation Initiative (SRMI) with $333 million for 22 African countries. The idea was incubated as the Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism by the International Solar Alliance, according to its Director-General, Upendra Tripathy. In an interview with BusinessLine , Tripathy also said the ISA Standing Committee has been reconstituted with the inclusion of the UK as the Vice-President of the Europe and other regions. Excerpts:

What is the current status of the Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism?

We incubated the idea and the World Bank operationalised it as the Solar Risk Mitigation Initiative (SRMI) with $333 million in 22 African countries. Essentially, the scheme reduces the cost of capital through credit enhancement mechanisms. SRMI has given a big push to solar projects in countries like Maldives to start with. We are trying to enhance the mechanism both vertically and horizontally. Many island countries now want to be covered under the SRMI.

The Standing Committee membership of ISA has been updated in the last week of May. What does this signify?

The European region has chosen the UK as the Vice-President and the Netherlands as the Additional member for the region. This is very significant as the regional committees for Europe will start functioning now. The regional committees in four regions play a very important role in project implementation and deliberations and are chaired by the Vice-President of the region.

What progress has ISA made on tendering solar pumps for member countries?

We have completed the price discovery tender for 2,72,000 pumps for 22 member countries. We have communicated the prices to the participating member countries. The prices have substantially come down. We have also empanelled Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) as a turnkey consultant for member countries if they wish to engage them. Our member counties are engaging with various financial institutions (World Bank, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Exim Bank and others) to take their respective projects forward.

Exim Bank and AFD have shown great interest in these projects as in the first phase member countries will give priority to solarising diesel pumps.

Encouraged by this exercise, we now plan to aggregate demand across countries for 47 million home power systems of 100 W, 200 W and 300 W, 250 million LED bulbs, 5 million solar hybrid cookers, 50 million street lights, 1 lakh primary health centres solarisation (ISA CARE INTITIATIVE) etc. to create frontier markets and drive down cost. All our price exploratory tenders have inbuilt provision for five-years maintenance.

What is your idea of a Host Country Day in the ISA Assembly?

India spends around ₹2,000 crore towards its obligation to multilateral bodies that serve the international community. But ISA is the only treaty-based body that has a headquarter in India. The idea of a Host Country Day during the Assembly is to give opportunity to all the provinces and Union Territories to showcase their presence and progress as a part of India.

We propose to have a global award sponsored by each province and UT in various solar related areas to encourage global participation. For example, provinces like Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have created a corpus of ₹100 million to sponsor an award.

We are in touch with other provinces and UTs too. The Host Country Day will bring in participants from all over the globe who will be familiar not only with India, but also with all its provinces. We are planning a video conferencing with all the Resident Commissioners to take this idea further.