India’s growth trajectory in solar sector indicates rapid change of the energy landscape. By practically doubling its solar capacity in recent years (since 2015), Indian has inspired developing countries and has instilled global trust on solar. Although, currently India has 14 GW of solar capacity, the country is still far from reaching its 100 GW by 2022 target. To add more than 17 GW each month for 5 months (to reach 100 GW target) will obviously require a stronger push and a bigger platform to support the efforts. In such a scenario, India’s leadership in the International Solar Alliance seems to be quite promising.
ISA: An Opportunity
India’s leadership in International Solar Alliance (ISA), can help India become an energy leader. Although the growth statistics are quite high, the country is still far behind of the solar product supply chain market dominating countries like- China and the US. These countries have supported domestic manufacturing and now controlling the solar component cost, getting advantage in the market. As calming the solar export market seems to be the only way to bring in profit, reduce forex outflow, create jobs, and bring in socio-economic reform; therefore, contending with dominant solar suppliers in the open market is absolutely important for India.
And ISA offers an opportunity through cross country collaboration for cost reduction, innovation, demand creation, quality improvement, and mass production of solar components in India. To win a place in the export market, India needs to become globally competitive. And ISA leadership can help the country to systematically utilize existing capacities, invest in R&D, while bringing energy security (within country).
So, it is fair to say that ISA is a great opportunity for India to become an energy leader.
Which Areas India Should Focus On
With ISA support, India can get cross country collaboration, solving halts in technology, finance, and demand creation. Additionally, creation of better and more efficient solar policy for India would be easier with resources, knowledge, and finances of 121 countries (members of the ISA) working together.
The $1 trillion investment that ISA is going to bring for solar growth will offer flexible financing choices, helping India (with other developing countries) to encourage manufacturing and faster implementation of projects.
To control the prices of solar and reach competitiveness while maintaining quality, India needs to focus on innovation. Cross country collaboration through ISA can help India find the best support for innovation. Technology exchange with 121 (ISA members) will lead to quality improvement, cost reduction, and mass production of solar components.
Creating demand for domestically manufactured solar products (mainly modules as existing capacities are capable of handling demand) has to be consistent in order to help India in claiming the export markets, which will lead to socio-economic transformation.
ISA ratification will lead India to access the virtually untapped 121 developing markets. And since statistics show that developing countries are investing huge amounts of money on solar, a huge demand creation can be expected for India. This will help the country position itself as a capable solar supplier, reducing forex outflow, and creating jobs.
More than 416,000 jobs were created in India through solar in 2015 and 1,017,800 jobs are estimated to be created within 2022. Therefore, it is fair to assume that with ISA ratification, the numbers will increase considerably, solving India’s current unemployment issue (currently 17.8 million unemployed).
The possibilities of socio-economic improvement through ISA are great. And India needs to be ready to write its own solar story focusing on domestic manufacturing, which will definitely translate into energy reliance and socio-economic growth.