As as many as 50 solar projects are expected to be committed at the ‘founding conference’ of the International Solar Alliance that will be held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi, where heads of States of most of the member countries of the alliance will meet for the first time ever. This means the industry will give 50 commitment certificates to ISA and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

The ISA was India’s idea, joined in by France, and was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) meeting held in Paris in December 2015. The Alliance is to be a coalition of 121 countries whose territories lie between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn — the ‘sunshine countries’.

Though technically, the ISA came into being on December 6, 2017 (30 days after the 15th country ratified the treaty-based international organisation), March 11 is when the Alliance will be given flesh and shape.

So far, 21 governments have ratified the Alliance and the others are expected to do so in the coming months.

ISA and MNRE wanted to get commitments for 121 solar projects — the target is split as 50 for the ISA Founding Conference and 71 more for RE-Invest 2018, which will happen in Delhi in April. The ISA Steering Committee held a meeting in Delhi on Tuesday, which, apart from discussing the holding of the Founding Conference, also threw up several ideas.

Understanding the needs

Upendra Tripathy, Interim Director General, ISA, told BusinessLine that the alliance pals to offer 12-18 months’ fellowships to officers whose ranks are equivalent to India’s Joint Secretaries’, so that they could come to India and learn about solar in Indian universities. The idea is to offer 20 such fellowships. ISA will also train a fleet of technicians to become ‘master solar mechanics’.

Another idea floated was to tap into the United Nation’s Combat Desertification campaign and see how best to work with the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund, which has a corpus of $300 million to put degraded or desert lands back into use, Tripathy said. (The fund was launched in September 2017 at Ordos, China, at the 13th Cconference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).)

ISA intends to reuse degraded land by putting up solar plants on them, but the nature of collaboration with the LDN Fund is not yet clear, given that solar’s needs are much more than what the fund has.

The Alliance is also helping member-countries develop their own solar policies. It will hold a National Focal Point Conclaveof representatives from member-nations. The 2nd NFP Conclave will be held in Delhi on March 10.