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Dhaka Tribune

UK joins International Solar Alliance to mark Commonwealth summit

Update : 17 Apr 2018, 06:53 PM
The UK government has joined the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to mark the launch of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). At an event on Monday held at the London Stock Exchange as part of the CHOGM, which runs from April 16 to 20, the UK formally signed up for membership of the alliance, which will involve providing expertise and advice to the alliance, but no monetary contributions. The UK becomes the 62nd country to join ISA, which includes countries like Bangladesh, France, Australia, Tuvalu, Benin, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Vanuatu, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda. The UK said its support for ISA, which aims to raise $1 trillion of private and public funds to provide affordable and sustainable energy for all by 2030, will help develop solar water pumping projects, where farmers can use cheaper solar power – rather than diesel pumps - to water their crops. This will build on the success of similar initiatives in Bangladesh, where farmers are already growing higher value vegetable crops and increasing their incomes. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on Tuesday. The new collaboration means ISA will be able to make solar power cheaper by helping countries join forces to procure solar energy systems. Currently 12 ISA countries, including Commonwealth countries like Bangladesh and Malawi, want to purchase over 720,000 solar pumps through ISA. The joint purchase will see a significant reduction in solar pump costs for each of the participating countries and up to five million people in developing countries will benefit from this collective purchase. The UK's Department for International Development (DfID) said its partnership of ISA aimed at giving over 1 billion of the world’s poorest people access to cheap, clean, renewable energy. “By increasing access to solar energy, millions more babies will now be delivered safely, millions of farmers will be able to grow more crops and better support their families, and millions more children can be better educated,” International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said. “Partnering with like-minded countries and businesses who share the UK’s commitment to delivering clean, affordable energy will help end poverty while also delivering benefits for the UK by opening up business opportunities for UK renewable energy and green finance companies,” she said. The DfID minister championed the UK’s world-leading innovation and expertise – including from the City of London, the leading global centre for green investment finance – that will enable the alliance to deliver more effective programmes and help more of the world’s vulnerable people. DfID highlighted that ISA has already brought together over 60 countries who have pledged to increase solar power that will ensure homes remain lit, children can be educated in schools, health facilities can provide life-saving treatment, and businesses have access to vital mobile and internet services. “The signing of this treaty is a momentous occasion for the UK and demonstrates our continued commitment to providing the very best of British expertise to the renewable energy sector. With the UK joining the International Solar Alliance, the lives of almost a billion of the world’s poorest people, across the Commonwealth and beyond, will be changed for the better,” Mordaunt said. UK expertise will also help increase the number of “mini grids” supplying power to remote areas that cannot be reached by the main electricity grid. These energy sources are considered a life-line for rural communities, helping to power businesses and homes, making sure the poorest people no matter where they live can access clean, reliable and affordable energy quickly to lift themselves out of poverty. ISA is an inter-governmental treaty-based organization that aims to mobilise $1 trillion in funds for future solar generation, storage and technology across the world. It was launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 and formalized at a founding conference in New Delhi last month. Modi and Sheikh Hasina are expected to interact bilaterally on the sidelines of the multilateral Heads of Government discussions on April 19 and at the private leaders' retreat in Windsor Castle on April 20. This article was first published on banglatribune.com
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