Sun's rays to rival oil wells, says PM Modi

He says India-led alliance will advance global shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy

Indian schoolchildren with solar lamps during a renewable energy expo in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Indian schoolchildren with solar lamps during a renewable energy expo in New Delhi on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Underlining the importance of a global shift from fossil-based fuels to renewable energy, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA) as a "big ray of hope for the world".

"The ISA will have the same role that Opec is playing to meet global energy needs," he said, referring to the cartel of 15 petroleum-rich nations that produce around a third of the world's oil.

"The role that oil wells have today will be taken over by the sun's rays."

Mr Modi was speaking on Tuesday at the inauguration of the first assembly of ISA in New Delhi.

"In coming years, when the world discusses organisations set up in the 21st century for the welfare of humanity, ISA's name will be at the top. It has created a large platform to ensure climate justice," he said.

The ISA, launched in 2015 by Mr Modi and then-French President Francois Hollande and headquartered in Gurugram in India, is an alliance of countries mostly located between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn that receive abundant sunshine. Attempts are on to expand this grouping to include countries outside this region.

The framework agreement of the ISA has been signed by 70 countries, including some Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) members such as Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Nigeria. The pact has been ratified by 44 countries.

The alliance aims to lower the costs of financing solar power and required technology, and to mobilise more than US$1 trillion (S$1.37 trillion) towards the deployment of 1,000GW of solar energy by 2030.

Mr Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron were named as recipients of the United Nations Environment Programme's Champions of the Earth Award last month for their policy leadership in advocating action on sustainable development and climate change.

The same event marked the inauguration of the second Indian Ocean Rim Association Renewable Energy Ministerial Meeting, and the second Global RE-Invest (Renewable Energy Investors' Meet and Expo).


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the inauguration that "current commitments under the Paris Agreement still fall far short of the target of limiting global warming to well below 2 deg C and striving for 1.5 deg".

"The truth is that climate change is still running faster than we are. What is urgently needed is more ambition and more action. This International Solar Alliance represents exactly what needs to be done and represents the future," he added.

Mr Guterres also said he will convene a climate summit in New York in September next year to "bring climate action to the top of the international agenda".

India has announced ambitious renewable energy goals and committed to put in place 175GW of installed renewable energy generation capacity by 2022.

It has already installed 72.10GW of this target and has another 46GW under the implementation or bidding process.

Renewables account for 21 per cent of installed power capacity in the country. It made up for 10 per cent of the electricity mix of the country last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2018, with the headline 'Sun's rays to rival oil wells, says PM Modi'. Subscribe