A mission-mode approach on energy access is urgently required now to accelerate our efforts to ensure universal energy access by 2030, says Dr Ajay Mathur (extreme left).
On Saturday, as over 100 countries pledged to triple renewables and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, the International Solar Alliance (ISA) announced a groundbreaking financing initiative aimed at unlocking commercial capital for solar power.
The Global Solar Facility (GSF), introduced by the ISA, is set to enable commercial capital for off-grid, rooftop, and productive-use solar projects across Africa.
The ISA Assembly’s approval of the GSF last year marked a significant stride toward attracting private capital, with the Government of India considering a substantial $25 million investment, further complemented by a $10 million commitment from the ISA. Additional support comes from Bloomberg Philanthropies and CIFF.
The GSF, with a target of raising $100 million, aims to leverage investments to expedite the transition to solar energy. Recognizing Africa’s vast solar potential hindered by investment risks, the GSF seeks to provide security to investments, drawing inspiration from India’s successful model of private sector development.
Dr.Ajay Mathur, Director-General of the ISA, stressed the urgency, stating, “The world requires an investment of $12.5 trillion in renewable energy and $23 billion in off-grid solar by 2030. The ISA, through its Global Solar Facility, is stepping up as current global solar investment falls woefully short, constituting only 10% of the required amount for achieving net-zero emissions.”
Dr Mathur highlighted the profound disparity in investments, with developing countries, housing over 50% of the global population, receiving a mere 15% of 2022’s renewable energy investments. Sub-Saharan Africa’s per capita renewable energy investment plummeted by 44% from 2015 to 2021. In contrast, investments in North America are 41 times higher, and in Europe, they are 57 times greater.
The ISA is actively crowdsourcing international investments for the GSF, holding multiple meetings at COP28 to encourage countries and investors to collaborate for this transformative initiative.
Emphasizing the GSF’s purpose, the ISA underscores its role in facilitating investments in Africa, aiming to enable $10 billion in investments. This initiative is projected to provide clean energy access to 35–40 million African households by 2030, benefiting approximately 200 million people in the region.
Along with Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), ISA will begin operationalising the Global Solar Facility with its first project in Africa, it was announced at COP. Africa 50, West African Development Bank (BOAD) will also be working with ISA on the facility in Africa.
Earlier, Dr. Mathur, along with Fatih Birol (IEA), Achim Steiner (UNDP), Ambuj Sagar (IIT Delhi), and Yacob Mulugetta (University College London), addressed the urgency needed to provide energy access.
They proposed a “Mission Energy Access” program to align development and climate benefits through access to energy. While much focus has been on mitigating the impacts of the shift away from fossil fuels, the enormous number of people living without access to electricity or clean cooking energy cannot be ignored.
Dr. Mathur stressed, “A mission-mode approach on energy access is urgently required now to accelerate our efforts to ensure universal energy access by 2030.”
The ISA is actively working to address challenges in solar and renewables by unlocking investments and fostering entrepreneurship. Dr. Mathur announced the introduction of the SolarX Startup Challenge for the Asia-Pacific region, building on the success of its Africa edition. Launched at COP28, the SolarX Startup Challenge targets entrepreneurship in the solar sector to foster scalable and replicable business models, aligning with the ISA’s commitment to advancing solar deployment and creating locally relevant business models.
Dr. Mathur expressed his anticipation for a transformative shift through entrepreneurship, finance, and increased investments, envisioning a new generation of leaders shaping the future of solar energy and contributing to global climate action.
Under the challenge, 20 startups from across the Asia-Pacific region will be selected, each receiving a $15,000 cash grant. The Sequoia Climate Foundation will be supporting this edition of the SolarX challenge.
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