Exploring solar energy potential for green transition

Mathur, head of India’s International Solar Alliance, says solar energy can help achieve clean energy transition, deliver new economic driver

Solar energy is playing a key role not only in the developing world to tackle energy access and energy security, but also in developed countries to facilitate a transition to green energy, the head of India’s flagship global organization of solar alliance said.

Ajay Mathur, director general of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) an international organization with 110 member and signatory countries – told AA that increased cooperation among countries will be the backbone of the “energy transition, propelling investment and creating millions of new green jobs.”

The ISA is an alliance of “sunshine countries,” which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. The primary objective of the alliance is to work for efficient consumption of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Launched in 2015, the alliance works with governments to improve energy access and security worldwide and promotes using solar energy in the agriculture, health, transport, and power generation sectors. Solar Alliance officials believe their mission is to unlock $1 trillion in investments in the solar industry by 2030 while reducing the cost of the technology and its financing.

Mathur said International Solar Alliance member countries are driving a change by enacting policies and regulations, sharing best practices, agreeing on common standards, and mobilizing investments.

“ISA is partnering with multilateral development banks, development financial institutions, private and public sector organizations, civil society, and other international institutions to deploy cost-effective and transformational solutions through solar energy, especially in the least developed countries and the small Island developing states,” he said.

He noted the alliance has been working on “bringing innovative instruments and strategies to countries” that need measures to ensure the growth of the solar sector.

“To reduce financing costs and the cost of solar technology applications and services, ISA has been working toward assisting member countries in mobilizing $1,000 billion of investment by 2030 for a massive deployment of solar energy technologies and expanding solar markets,” he said, adding that it would help achieve clean energy transition, enabling energy access and security, and delivering a new economic driver for all countries.

Helping least-developed countries

Asked about whether the alliance is helping countries with limited fiscal capacity and poor energy systems, the director general said it extends support to least-developed countries and small island developing states by providing grants to member countries for technical and financial assistance in setting up solar pilot projects.

“The grant initiative allows eligible member countries to access up to $50,000 by submitting project proposals across various solarization themes such as primary health care solarization, solar water pumping systems, solar cold storage, and other innovative projects,” he said.

As of August 2022, the alliance said 27 countries have expressed interest, and the detailed project reports of 26 countries have been finalized.

Noting that India is endowed with abundant solar energy, which can produce 5,000 trillion kilowatts of clean power, Mathur maintained the Indian government is committed to achieving 500 GW (gigawatts) of installed electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.

“The global solar sector enjoyed 2021 with nearly 191 GW of new solar capacity additions. The recent growth has been driven to a large extent by policies, laws,and regulations that encourage investments in the sector,” he said.

To a question if each household would have its own solar energy plant, Mathur emphasized that the “world is on the cusp of a solar revolution” and not only is solar the world’s most abundant and clean energy source, with its widespread acceptance, it has become the common energy imperative to drive international climate action.

“Governments and other stakeholders around the world have begun to pay increasing attention to solar PV’s (photovoltaic) manufacturing supply chains as high commodity prices and supply chain bottlenecks have led to an increase of around 20% in solar panel prices over the last year,” he said.

Rapidly decarbonizing world

He also said while governments and stakeholders have begun to pay increasing attention to solar PV manufacturing, more needs to be done.

“The strategic importance of this sector in a rapidly decarbonizing world requires like-minded countries to act together. It is expected that module manufacturing will be occurring everywhere,” he said. “There is a need for support in the early years and as a global community, we need to support countries in enabling an environment for manufacturing.”

He added that with 110 members and signatory countries, the International Solar Alliance “is making efforts to bring about this change.”


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