A possible game changer – 120 country alliance spearheaded by India and supported by France has been announced, with the purpose of promoting solar energy in developing countries.

Solar panels in an off-grid Indian village. Image via Wikipedia.

Many developing countries enjoy sun-rich areas, but they lack the technology and financial capabilities to make full use of that potential. With that in mind, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said that the future of these countries depends on bold initiatives and alternatives to fossil fuel energy.

“Solar technology is evolving, costs are coming down and grid connectivity is improving,” he said. “The dream of universal access to clean energy is becoming more real. This will be the foundation of the new economy of the new century.”

It’s easy to get behind such an initiative – even only technological exchange could dramatically improve renewable energy availability, with massive social and economic impacts – but a full fledged alliance, with technological, financial and policy support seems destined to shine.

France’s president, François Hollande praised the initiative, raising the stakes even more and saying that this type of deal could pave the way for a global climate agreement and calling it an example of “climate justice”.

“What we are putting in place is an avant garde of countries that believe in renewable energies,” he told a press conference in Paris. “What we are showing here is an illustration of the future Paris accord, as this initiative gives meaning to sharing technology and mobilizing financial resources in an example of what we wish to do in the course of the climate conference.”

According to the presentation documents, the alliance could set in motion funds of up to $1000 billion (a thousand billion, yes), but that sounds like an overly optimistic figure. So far, India has is investing an initial $30m (£20m) in setting up the alliance’s headquarters and funding from international agencies and membership fees will raise the sum to $400m – that’s still a long way to go to a billion, let alone a thousand, but this is definitely a step in the right direction.

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This shouldn’t be mistaken for the Breakthrough Energy Coalition which is basically an investment fund for clean energy projects launched by Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

We’ll keep you posted as developments continue to unfold.

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