International Solar Alliance Summit: How India Charted a New Path

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India and France are co-hosting the first International Solar Alliance (ISA) Summit in New Delhi that has begun today, Sunday, March 11, 2018. At the summit, 23 heads of nations and 10 ministerial representatives are in attendance. Since India has played a key leadership role in putting both the ISA as well as the summit together, this is a good time to take a look at the progress the country has made in the field of solar power.

India has seen an unprecedented growth in solar power in the last three-plus years. Within this short time period, what used to contribute a negligible share to total capacity is now being considered a viable alternative to conventional power sources.

So, what has led to this rapid growth?

Founding and Leading the ISA

On November 13, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a speech at London’s Wembley Stadium, had mentioned the idea of an inter-governmental organisation to promote solar energy. The initiative had been launched at the India-Africa Summit in October 2015. Soon after the Wembley speech, the ISA was given formal shape at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris on November 30, 2015, with the Paris Declaration on the International Solar Alliance.

As of now, there are 121 prospective countries and territories in the ISA, out of which about 90 countries have already signed its Framework Agreement. India had asserted its leadership by offering a contribution of Rs 175 crore for creating the ISA corpus fund and for meeting the cost of the ISA secretariat for an initial five years. The ISA has its secretariat on the campus of the National Institute of Solar Energy, Gwalpahari, Gurugram, in Haryana.

The first summit of the ISA cements India’s global position as a leader in solar power and its commitment to tackling the issue of global warming.

From a Nobody to Pole Position

It may be quite fair to say that India was a nobody in solar power and that has only changed in the last few years. Under the last government, the National Solar Mission was launched in 2010, with a target of building capacity for 20 GW grid-connected solar power by 2022.
In June 2015, the Union Cabinet made an ambitious decision to change this target to 100 GW by 2022. This shows the sheer scale of expansion under the current administration.

Now that we have looked at the targets, let us next see what has been actually achieved:

  • From 22 MW in 2011, India came a long way to more than 18,000 MW by the end of January 2018 in terms of installed capacity for solar power
  • The solar power sector saw the biggest-ever capacity addition of 5,525.98 MW in 2017-18
  • This year too saw the decline in solar tariff to the record lowest level of Rs 2.44/ kWh

At the end of fiscal 2014-15, before the new target was formally approved, India had a cumulative solar energy capacity of 3,743.97 MW. The current cumulative is at more than 18,000 MW, which is far more than what was achieved earlier. All of this has happened within a span of less than four years.

But none of this happened like magic and overnight. A lot of hard work, planning and implementation went into it. The figures we have mentioned above were achieved on the back of the following policy initiatives:

  • Under the scheme for “Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects”, 35 solar parks of aggregate capacity 20,514 MW have been approved in 21 states
  • Kurnool Solar Park in Andhra Pradesh with 1,000 MW capacity has emerged as the world’s largest solar park
  • Bhadla Phase-II Solar Park in Rajasthan with 650 MW capacity has been commissioned, among other such projects
  • Grid-Connected Rooftop and Small Solar Power Plants Programme provides for the installation of 2,100 MW capacity through Central financial assistance up to 30% for residential, institutional and social sectors in General Category States, and up to 70% in Special Category States
  • Suryamitra programme has been launched for the creation of a qualified technical workforce and over 11,000 individuals have been trained under the programme
  • ARUN (Atal Rooftop Solar User Navigator) mobile app has been launched for access to request submission and awareness under the solar rooftop programme
  • National Solar Mission has set a target for increasing solar capacity up from 20 GW to 100 GW by 2021-22.


India is leading the way in solar power and making its stand clear on the issue of global warming, which affects countries across the board. This also helps build India’s credentials at being a global power that is looking at sustainable development goals.


For further details on solar power and ISA, read our articles:
Solar Alliance Becomes a Treaty-Based Organisation – How India’s Leadership is Paying Off
The Map of Solar Energy: A Review
New & Renewable Energy Sector in 2017: The Year in Review