France and India look to the sun to save the planet

by Reuters
Monday, 30 November 2015 20:19 GMT

A private security guard walks between rows of photovoltaic solar panels inside a solar power plant at Raisan village near Gandhinagar, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Feb. 11, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave

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International alliance seeks to mobilise over $1 trillion by 2030 to deliver solar energy to some of planet's poorest

* Aims to bring together over 100-rich sun-drenched nations

* Solar could reach the world's energy poor

* Industry says solar increasingly competitive

By Barbara Lewis

PARIS, Nov 30 (Reuters) - France and India on Monday launched an international alliance seeking to mobilise more than a trillion dollars by 2030 and deliver clean, solar energy to some of the planet's poorest.

French President Francois Hollande, host of two weeks of U.N. talks, needs to win the support of nearly 200 nations if the summit is to forge a global deal to curb climate change.

In the past, India has been one of the obstacles to consensus as it pushes for leeway to allow its population of more than a billion to develop.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said solar would allow India to combine protecting the environment with growth, setting a positive tone that delegates said boded well for the negotiations ahead.

"There is already a revolution in solar energy. Technology is evolving and costs are coming down," Modi said.

"We want to bring solar energy into lives and homes by making it cheaper, more reliable and easier to connect to the grid."

India's national plan, submitted to the United Nations as its contribution to tackling climate change, focuses on solar, saying it is expected to grow significantly. India is seeking to reach capacity of 100 gigawatts by 2022.

The International Solar Alliance will hold its first steering group meeting on Tuesday and aims to deliver clean and affordable energy to all, including India's 300 million people who have no access to energy.

It aspires to bring together well over 100 solar-rich countries in the tropics, with backing from industry and governments and to mobilise a trillion dollars of investment.

"We can no longer accept this paradox that those who have the most potential for solar energy have only a small share of solar electricity," Hollande told delegates.

Industry was represented at Monday's launch ceremony by France's solar leader Engie, whose CEO Gerard Mestrallet said the energy form was already cost competitive without subsidies in some regions.

India's national action plan, combined with more than 180 other submitted to the United Nations, will not be enough to reduce global warming to the limit scientists say is needed to avert the worst effects of climate change.

India has a huge interest in the mass roll-out of solar power in which some of its own firms, such as Tata Power , are highly active. (Editing by Jonatghan Leff and Richard Balmforth)

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