Solar power will drive us towards goal of universal energy access: ISA chief

The International Solar Alliance’s (ISA) first chief Upendra Tripathy says that the global body will become a huge organisation one day and attract a lot of talent to India. He also explains how it will help in increasing global solar footprints.

ISA will become a legal entity on December 6. What does this mean for India?

It’s very special as it’s the first inter-governmental global organisation to be permanently headquartered in India. Having 121countries as its prospective members, the ISA will become a huge organisation one day. Being permanently located here, it will attract a lotof talent toIndia. The world has, in fact, been looking at India for its new role. The ISA will drive a lot of R&D activities exclusively on solar — from electricity generation to storage capacity. Once we achieve creating cost-effective storage capacity (batteries), solar power will play a significant rolein driving us towards universal energy access.

ISA aims to mobilise more than $1 trillion in investments by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy. How would it do that?

We are not a bank. So, we can’t lend money. But we can always facilitate and create an ecosystem so that the money flows in. We have financial partners in World Bank, European Investment Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and others. We are planning partnership with Asian Development Bank and African Development Bank as well. The idea is to persuade them to earmark at least 10% of their credit to solar power.

How will the ISA celebrate its historic day?

 December 6 will be the ISA’s foundation day. We have urged all member countries to celebrate it as ‘Universal Energy Access Day’. We have also requested them to make people aware of theISA’s existence, its role and how it will play a key role in providing clean energy to everyone.
So far, 46 countries have signed up and 15, including France, have ratified it. What about China, Japan, the US and others?
China, at various levels at the COP23 last month and even otherwise, expressed interest because essentially we are talking about $1trillion investment by 2030 on solar in member countries. It means China should be happy because a lot more solar photovoltaic cells will be used world over. (China is the leader in PV manufacturing). As far as Japan is concerned, they have expressed interest to join the ISA. The US, of course, will take more time. I hope they will take a conscious decision depending on their perception and national interest.

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