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Transcript of Curtain Raiser Briefing on the International Solar Alliance Founding Conference (February 22, 2018)

February 23, 2018

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Good afternoon friends and welcome to this special briefing on the Founding Conference of the International Solar Alliance which will take place in New Delhi at Rashtrapati Bhawan cultural center on Sunday, March 11, 2018. This is a curtain raiser so we will go into a bit of detail about the conference and to do that I have with me Secretary (MNRE), Shri Anand Kumar and Secretary (ER) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Shri Tirumurti and Mr. K Nagaraj Naidu who is Jt. Secretary (Europe West) and also he is the in charge of this conference. So without any further delay I request to Secretary (ER) to brief you all.

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: Good afternoon to all of you and thank you for coming. The International Solar Alliance was launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister in the 21st Conference of parties of the United Nations framework convention on Climate Change in Paris in November 2015.

The framework agreement of the establishment of the ISA was open for signature in Morocco on 15 November 2016. The ISA became a legal entity on 6 December 2016, 30 days after the deposit of the 15th Ratification instrument by GINI therefore in a short span of mere one year the ISA has become a legal entity. So far 55 countries have signed the framework agreement of ISA out of which 26 counties have already ratified it.

As you are aware ISA includes 121 prospective member countries that fall within the tropics, so to say, and are known for receiving the maximum solar intensity over 300 days a year. The founding conference of the ISA will take place on 11th March the Rashtrapati Bhawan Cultural Center in New Delhi. We expect all the signatories and countries which have ratified the ISA framework agreement to be present. They have been invited jointly the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the President of France. We have also invited inter alia the multilateral development banks, UN agencies, business entities particularly in the field of renewable energy, civil society, research institutions etc.

As of now the indications are that out of the 55 nearly half the countries will be represented at Heads of State or Heads of Government level. President of France, Emmanuel Macron will be in Delhi to participate in this event and we will also have Deputy Prime Ministerial or Ministerial level Heads of Delegation of another ten countries or so. In addition we have the presence of the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as well as representations from six of the multilateral development banks.

The level of participation is a clear indication of the high importance that the countries are attaching to this founding conference of ISA. One of the significant initiatives which India will launch during the ISA founding conference is extending lines of credit to specific solar energy projects in various developing countries. Over the last few months we have been intensively engaged with various signatory countries to ascertain their interest in having solar projects in their respective countries.

We have been overwhelmed by their positive response to our offer and nearly 20 countries have already responded with concrete proposal for us to take up solar projects in their countries. The range of these proposals include projects in areas such as rural electrification, solar electricity in important buildings and structures, water supply, electrification of villages, irrigation, street lighting and off grid usage of solar energy, solar applications etc.

We are now in the process of finalizing the list of projects in consultation with these user countries which will then be covered under our lines of credit. This initiative of India is in line with the vision of our Prime Minister who has taken the leadership role in the context of combating climate change. While many of these initiatives on renewable energy are already being put in place in the domestic sphere, our commitment to provide the world particularly the developing countries with an option of clean, climate friendly, affordable, appropriate and sustainable energy will be a hallmark during this founding conference. Thank you.

Secretary (MNRE), Shri Anand Kumar: Friends, a very good afternoon to you all. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi Ji and the President of France, His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Macron will jointly host the founding conference of the International Solar Alliance on March 11, 2018 in the Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi. The conference is likely to be attended by Heads of the States, Governments or their special envoys and ministers from over 50 countries that have signed the ISA framework agreement.

The idea of the International Solar Alliance was conceived by India and jointly launched by India and France on the sidelines of Paris Climate Conference in November 2015. ISA is a reflection of common desire to significantly augment harnessing of solar energy, make joint efforts towards development and mobilize investment in the solar sector in order to promote energy security and universal energy access in member countries.

The member countries share the ambition for reducing the cost of finance and cost of technology development for deployment of affordable solar energy. Till date 55 countries have signed and 26 countries have ratified the ISA framework agreement in conformity with ISA framework agreement 30 days after ratification by the 15th country on 06 December, 2017 ISA became the first full-fledged treaty based international, inter-governmental organization to be headquartered in India. ISA secretariat is located in the National Institute of Solar Energy campus in Gwalapari Gurugram, Haryana.

On 16 February 2018 while inaugurating the World Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi, India the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi Ji referred to the ISA as the single most important global achievement after the Paris Accord on Climate Change. The first general assembly of the ISA is expected to be held on the sidelines of the second edition of the Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet and Expo, in short REINVEST to be organized by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in April 2018.

REINVEST aims at developing partnership with relevant stakeholders to galvanize the renewable energy sector by innovating new means of financing at low rates, enhancing technology efficiency, reducing the cost of technology and exploring new ways for utilizing renewable energy.

Friends, ISA interim Secretariat was jointly inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi Ji and the then President of France, His Excellency Mr. Francois Hollande on 25th January 2016. Three programs namely Scaling Solar Applications for Agriculture Use, Affordable Finance at Scale and Scaling Solar Mini-grids have been launched. These programs will help in achieving the overall goal of increased solar energy deployment in the ISA member countries for achieving universal energy access and speeding up the economic development.

ISA now plans to launch two more programs, one for scaling solar rooftop and second for supporting solar supported e-mobility. IN addition a large number of organization such as World Bank, UNDP, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Climate Parliament etc. has signed joint declarations for forging partnerships with ISA for development and deployment of solar energy globally.

India has offered to meet ISA Secretariat expenses for initial five years. The Government of India has allotted five acres of land to ISA, a nice campus in Gurugram, Haryana and released a sum of Rs. 130 crore for creating a corpus fund, building infrastructure and meeting day to day recurring expenditure. Besides the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India has set aside $2 billion for solar projects in Africa out of Government of India’s $10 billion concessional line of credit for Africa.

As you are aware by 31 March, 2018 India will have approximately 22GW of installed capacity through solar energy. We plane to touch the target of 100 gigawatts by 31 March 2022. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has already announced the trajectory for achieving the target. The Ministry would be bidding out 20 gigawatts this year, a 30 gigawatts capacity next year and another 30 gigawatts in the year in year 2019-20. The reason being that the solar projects take at least 18 months for implementation so working backwards if we have to install a capacity of 100 gigawatts by March 31, 2022 we must complete the bidding of 100 gigawatts by 31 March, 2020 and hence we have declared the trajectory already so that all stakeholders including the developers, manufacturers and financial institutions they can deploy their plans accordingly. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Thank you Sirs, now the floor is open for questions.

Question: Do you have a confirmed list of the Heads of States who are coming here

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: We have list of confirmations from Heads of States and Heads of Government who are coming. I think this is slightly premature to give you a full response to that but let me just say that we are expecting Heads of States from France, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Ghana, Gabon, Australia, Venezuela, Bangladesh and Heads of Government from Fiji, Deputy Prime Minister Mauritius and many other countries as well. Just giving you a sense of where we stand but we will be able to give you a little bit more details as we get a full list and that will be a better time to give the details.

Jt. Secretary (Europe West), Shri K Nagaraj Naidu:We have earlier explained to you the concept of ISA, it is 121 countries which fall within the tropic of cancer and Capricorn. Pakistan doesn’t fall in this.

Question: Lines of credit which India would be announcing, the $2 billion which has been earmarked for Africa, so what will be the announcement about what will be the quantum that will be announced?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: See, as of now, as I said we have nearly 20 countries which have expressed a very keen interest to collaborate with India in this field and we are sort of intensely engaging with them to not only flesh out the projects but also see how best to collaborate with them under lines of credit. I can assure you that it is going to be fairly substantial but at this point, I think once again to give you the quantum will be a bit difficult because we are still waiting for them to come back to us with the nature of our assistance and once that is there I am sure that we will be able to give you the details.

Question: You have talked sometime back about World Bank signing an agreement with ISA to mobilize a trillion dollar investment by 2030, where do we stand on that?

Secretary (MNRE), Shri Anand Kumar: ISA is directly holding negotiations with World Bank and we will come up with details.

Question: Anand Ji, ye aapne jo bataya abhi 55 countries aur jo data diya 26 countries aur abhi Tirumurti saab bata rahe they confirmed list nahi hai, apart from that Heads of States ke alawa kya aapne jo multinational companies aur jo solar companies hain Bharat ye Bharat ke baahar ki unko bhi invite kiya hai, unki kya sankhya hai, yadi aisa kuch provision hai ismein to?

(You have given the data about 55 countries, and then 26 countries, Mr. Tirumurti was saying that there is no confirmed list. So apart from the Heads of States, have you also invited the multinational Indian or international companies particularly in the field of solar energy, if yes what is the number of those?)

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: We have a confirm list, it will take some time to give the entire list to you.

Question Contd.: I am talking about the companies.

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: I understand, just to clarify, its not that we don’t have a confirmed list. See actually you are absolutely right our whole intention is to engage the corporate side, the academic side particularly the research side where there is a great deal of interest in affordable and innovative technologies. So this is an area which will be certainly of great interest to us so therefore as I mentioned not just multilateral development banks but we are involving all the others like civil society, UN agencies and others and as I mentioned there is a great deal of interest in this conference because it is going to be one of its kind so we are hoping that we will be able to involve all those who are interested in renewable energy particularly in solar energy, so it is going to be an inclusive conference.

Question: During this conference will there be some projects announced under the three or four programs, is there a capacity that you can share and the number of projects that you can share, like under 50 projects, lines of credits would be facilitated for setting up?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: We will certainly be sharing the projects which we are going to extend lines of credit, so that will be very clear number of projects as 20 countries have already come forward but the reason I didn’t give you the specific projects is something there are small nitty-gritties in the negotiations which we have to complete but in my remarks the areas of these projects which are covering that is why we gave you the specific areas, thinks like rural electrification and then electrification of villages, then off-grid usage. These are all things of great interest to them and there a lot of projects have come on these lines, so that is why I gave you the various areas where they are looking at.

Question: China is the world leader, market leader in solar equipment and capacity. I was wondering since you are targeting 121 nations, solar focused, can China be kept out of it or has China expressed interest to be a part of it or is China supporting the ISA, is there any such thing?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: See, it is not yet signed it, you are asking about the projects basically isn’t it, because we have identified projects which will fit in other criteria of our lines of credit because we have certain criteria for our lines of credit, so it should fit in our criteria and there are also specific areas in which we expertise and these areas are those which we have conveyed to all these countries that we have expertise in solar energy and it is from these specific areas these countries have taken up, so therefore we are fully confident of ensuring that whatever goes out not only sticks to the criteria of the lines of credit but to also be completely Indian, so to say and we will be able to do it to the fullest satisfaction of the user countries.

Question: The amount that you said, is it enough 130 crores for international project or it will become more and more?

Secretary (MNRE), Shri Anand Kumar: We said that 130 crore has already been provided by Government of India for setting up ISA and we would be providing another 45 crores over the next three years.

Question: You mentioned that few Heads of States will also be visiting for this Solar Alliance thing, so with these visiting Heads of States is there any plan of having parallel bilaterals with Prime Minister Modi or it will just be restricted to the Solar Alliance?

Secretary (ER), Shri T S Tirumurti: The Hon’ble Prime Minister will be hosting a lunch for all the 55 countries including all the Heads of States and Governments on the day of the conference, which is 11 March and the previous evening the Rashtrapati Ji will be hosting a dinner for the Heads of States who will be coming for this ISA. In addition we are also having provisions for bilaterals and that I presume will be done in the follow up to the event as well as during the event itself. So there will be provisions for bilaterals.

Question: There was a plan of ISA of Risk Mitigation Fund of $1 billion, where does it stand on it? How far has it progressed?

Secretary (MNRE), Shri Anand Kumar: Many dimensions are there, we have to ensure where the funds will come from, so the concept is good and we are at the initial stages.

Question: What are the media arrangements going to be?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: We will let you know separately about the media arrangements. As in any other conferences we will of course open a link for registration, I think it has already been done and it is already live, if you have any queries on media registration you can of course contact us, my team is here and we will be able to help you.

This concludes the special briefing on ISA. I thank the two secretaries and also the Jt. Secretary for joining in and thank you all for your presence.


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