IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 16th March 2018
Indian-UK Joint Team to study Arsenic poisoning in Ganga R
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Government interventions
- An India-UK Joint Team has won the Newton-Bhabha Fund for a project on Groundwater Arsenic Research in Ganga River Basin.
- The Department of Science and Technology has undertaken the project with the Natural Environment Research Council, UK, to find solutions to the water challenges faced in the pervasively arsenic-affected Ganga River Basin.
- The Indian team comprises representatives of the IIT Kharagpur, the National Institute of Hydrology, the IIT Roorkee and the Mahavir Cancer Sansthan and Research Centre of Patna.
- The UK team consists of representatives of the University of Manchester, the British Geological Survey, the University of Salford and the University of Birmingham.
- The team members involved with the project will try to assess how the problem of arsenic poisoning can get aggravated in the next 25 to 30 years and influence groundwater management practices and suggest water remedial technologies accordingly.
- The Newton Bhabha Fund, provided by the British Council, aims to bring together the UK and Indian scientific research and innovation sectors to find joint solutions to the challenges facing India in economic development and social welfare.
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General Studies 2:
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
General Studies 3:
- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life
- Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology
International Solar Alliance: Delhi Summit
India, along with France, hosted the members of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), marking an important milestone in its efforts to take the alliance, which was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brainchild, and supported ably by France, forward.
The Alliance, which was inaugurated a few days after the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, became a treaty-based inter-governmental international organisation on 6 December 2017, with 61 countries signing the ISA agreement (and 32 of them ratified it so far).
The Delhi Summit was co-hosted by India and France and was attended by 23 heads of states and governments from other ISA signatory countries.
The key idea of the ISA:
Is to “harmonize and aggregate demand for solar finance, solar technologies, innovation, research and development, and capacity building”.
The ISA aims to mobilise $1 trillion low-cost financing for massive deployment of solar energy by 2030 and bring together 121 countries that lie between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn that receive plenty of sunshine and are mostly developing nations.
Objectives of the ISA:
- Mobilising more than $1 trillion of investments by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy.
- Global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity.
- Making solar energy available at affordable rates, create solar grids and establish solar credit mechanism.
- Reducing the cost of finance and cost of technology.
- Enhancing energy security and sustainable development.
- Addressing common as well as specific obstacles that lie in the way of rapid and massive scaling up of solar energy in these countries.
- Act as a broader platform for deep diplomatic engagement on crucial developmental issues.
Although the ISA came into being on 6 December 2017, the Delhi summit marked the momentous occasion on which the alliance was given flesh and shape.
Since 2016, the ISA has launched five programmes of action — rural and decentralized application; access to affordable finance; mini grids; solar e-mobility; and rooftop installations.
- At the Summit inauguration, Prime Minister Modi set out a ten-point action plan for the ISA. This action plan includes framing of regulation and standards, consultancy support for bankable solar projects, concessional and less risky finances, all aimed at increasing the share of electricity produced from solar energy in the overall energy mix.
- PM Modi also announced the creation of a solar technology mission for R&D and 500 training slots for member countries.
- India also extended Line of Credit of up to $1.4 billion for 27 projects in 15 countries at the summit, while France has committed to investing $ 860 million by 2022 in solar energy in addition to the over $ 369 million that it committed in 2015.
- President Macron and PM Modi inaugurated a 75 MW solar power plant in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh.
Opportunities for India:
The Summit has significant geopolitical implications.
The Permanent Secretariat of ISA will also be located in India at Gurugram, the first time that an inter-governmental treaty-based alliance will have its headquarters in India.
- This will allow India the opportunity to position itself in a key global leadership role in the arena of climate change, RE and sustainable development.
- The Indian leadership also sees its active role within the ISA as a reiteration of India’s commitment to fulfilling its global commitment on addressing climate change in a time-bound manner and help boost global confidence in India’s capacities.
- The ISA is not only expected to spur innovation in the RE space but also help make India a technological hub with independent manufacturing capabilities of RE equipment like solar panels, rather than being dependent on imports, through initiatives like ‘Make in India’.
The ISA aims to raise investments of up to $ 1 trillion by 2030. To facilitate the ISA secretariat and the ISA corpus fund, India has already contributed $ 62 million.
The ISA has also partnered with international organisations like the European Investment Bank, World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Energy Agency.
The ISA has also invited several financial institutions to form a $ 300 billion global risk mitigation fund.
- One of the important challenges for the ISA therefore is to attract investments to fund the projects.
- Funding is expected to come from individual countries, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and multilateral development banks, securing adequate financing will continue to remain a challenge.
- $ 1 trillion worth of investments needed by 2030 for the deployment of solar energy.
- While the cost of solar installations has been decreasing worldwide, it still remains high in many of the ISA countries.
Hence, to further the spread of technology related to solar energy, reducing high tariff barriers is essential as such duties are detrimental to cost-effective solar deployment.
Cooperation in energy storage technology:
Energy storage technologies have the potential to change the face of RE.
- Non-fuel minerals like cobalt are essential to energy storage technologies. Sixty per cent of global cobalt reserves are located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is a signatory to the ISA.
- Chile, another signatory, is part of the ‘lithium triangle’ of countries that contain approximately 54 per cent of the world’s lithium reserves.
Although Chile and Congo have yet to ratify the ISA agreement, cooperation with these mineral rich countries within the ISA can unlock large gains for solar energy.
There is great optimism that the solar alliance would help in pushing ‘power for all’ into a more realistic realm.
Furthermore, the ISA could be greatly beneficial in boosting technology transfer and emphasising the need for greater storage technologies.
ISA member countries could also cooperate in developing an integrated electronic mobility ecosystem that is fueled by solar energy.
Connecting the dots:
- The International solar alliance presents multiple opportunities for India. Analyze. Also, discuss its key objectives and challenges in its implementation.
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