India takes the lead in the war on carbon emissions

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New Delhi: India is betting big on solar power. The government has decided to build solar power generation capacity totaling 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2022.

India, a country blessed with abundant sunshine, has also taken a lead role in setting up the International Solar Alliance (ISA)—an alliance of 122 sunshine countries situated between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn—that was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November.

In January, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande laid the foundation stone of the ISA at Gurgaon .

The two leaders had also inaugurated the temporary headquarters of the alliance, which is touted as a multilateral platform to promote the use of solar energy by bringing together companies, research institutions and the governments of around 120 countries.

This was Modi’s second major policy decision on the solar sector. The government has been betting big on solar power since it came to power in May 2014.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government raised India’s target for solar power production from 20,000 megawatts (MW) by 2022 to the current 100GW, or 100,000MW .

“Last 20-30 years, the oil-producing countries have dictated the world with their natural resources. Now with India being at the centre of initiative like the International Solar Alliance gives the country a unique opportunity. This alliance will drive the future of investment and innovation in solar sector and of course Indian companies are looking at the development very positively,” said Ketan Mehta, chief executive of Rays Power Infra Pvt. Ltd, a company working in the solar sector.

“India is going to be a powerhouse especially in solar sector. We will have power not just for our own consumption but for neighbouring countries as well,” he added.

The idea of the solar alliance was first mooted by Prime Minister Modi. Hollande and Modi launched the alliance on the first day of the Paris climate talks.

India is hoping that the ISA will become a reality within the next few months. Though it will be based in India, Modi has declared that it will be a global institution meant for the benefit of mankind.

India has emerged as one of the most vibrant markets for solar energy. In 2015, investments of $5.6 billion (aroundRs.38,000 crore) to build solar energy generating capacity were announced, compared with $3.1 billion in 2014, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report.

The price of solar energy has also fallen sharply, from aroundRs.17.90 per unit in 2010 to Rs.4.34, the amount quoted by Finland-based Fortum Finnsurya Energy in January at an auction for a 70MW project in Rajasthan.

Experts also back the idea of ISA. “When the solar alliance was announced in Paris last year, the initiative was mostly led by Indian and African countries. The alliance is yet to take a final shape but as it progresses and turns into something concrete, Indian companies in the solar sector would definitely have a huge opportunity,” said Rakesh Kamal, senior programme manager, climate change, at the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based environmental think tank.