The foundation stone of International Solar Alliance (ISA) Headquarters will be laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande a day before the Republic Day celebrations. The two will also inaugurate the interim Secretariat of ISA at National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) in Gurgaon. The initiative was announced by PM Modi at the Conference of Parties in (COP 21) in Paris in November 2015.
Upendra Tripathy, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), told the media: “ISA will be a major international body headquartered in India. It will be a new beginning for accelerating development and deployment of solar energy for achieving universal energy access and energy security of the present and future generations.”
ISA is a partnership initiative of 121 solar rich resource countries lying fully or partially between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. These countries receive an average of 300 or more days of sunshine per year. Other countries are allowed to join the alliance only as partners.
Explaining the purpose of ISA, P.C. Maithani, director, MNRE, said, “There is a gap at present that arises primarily from a lack of systematic information about the on-ground requirements as well as scarce opportunities for capacity building and training of users of technologies. A shortage of finance is also a major roadblock that leads to under-utilisation of solar resources. ISA intends to bridge this gap with the coordination and cooperation of member countries and will provide simple solar appliances where they are needed the most.”
To achieve the overarching objectives of promoting solar technologies, developing innovative financial mechanisms and to generate employment in the sector at local levels, ISA members will collaborate on joint researches and create country specific technology centres for supporting technology absorption and innovation that can be made available to all the member states.
India will provide Rs 400 crore support, including the normative cost of land to ISA. For building infrastructure and incurring expenditure, the Union government will provide Rs 175 crore expenditure (US $27 million) over a five year period from 2016-17 to 2020-21. The recurring expenditure on ISA will be met from membership fee, contributions from bilateral and multilateral agencies, other appropriate institutions and also from interest earned from the augmented corpus. India has offered a contribution of Rs 100 crore (around US $15 million) for creating the ISA corpus fund. Dr P.C. Maithani alsosaid, “We have proposed to host ISA at the premises of NISE and have offered five acre land. Three floors of the Surya Bhawan of NISE have been offered for starting the interim secretariat while efforts are in place to build an iconic structure for ISA secretariat.”
About the proposed governance structure of ISA, an official of the MNRE said, “It would consist of an assembly, a council and a secretariat, and would 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.” Following the signing of the statute, each member country will have to send the document to their Cabinets or Parliaments for ratification within three months. The International Solar Alliance will become a legal entity after a minimum of 25 countries ratify it.