“Expanding access to renewable technologies is the best way to lift up people across the developing world”


“By scaling technologies like solar mini-grids, Indian innovators have demonstrated that access to affordable, reliable power is possible at scale,” said Dr Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, while delivering a special lecture in New Delhi, hosted by the International Solar Alliance. He said that “solar, wind, and other renewable technologies can empower people around the world – finally ending energy poverty – and India can help lead the way” while addressing the theme, ‘Tackling the Climate Crisis by Dramatically Expanding Access to Renewable Technologies Across the Developing World’.

The Rockefeller Foundation and the ISA are working together to provide support to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with the implementation of innovative solar projects and by building resilience in key sectors such as agriculture and health. The projects supported through this partnership are expected to enable faster replication across other countries.

“For 110 years, The Rockefeller Foundation has made big bets to ensure everyone has access to the latest advances in science and technology,” said Dr Shah. “We’re currently making the biggest bet in our history, building the partnerships required to unlock the potential of renewable energy for those who right now do not have access to the electricity they need to compete In the modern economy.”

The Director General of the International Solar Alliance, Dr Ajay Mathur, underlined the inevitability of renewables in his opening address, saying, “The tipping point in the rise of solar as a global choice of clean energy has been reached. The rise in investment flows into the sector, the technological innovations, combined with the coupling ability of the technology, which spreads across applications, is paving the field for formidable ambitions and subsequent achievements. Political will defined through efficient policies is the way forward for solar-powered solutions. If successfully scaled, they can be the game-changer in the global energy transition by helping countries meet their climate goals.”

The programme proceedings also included a panel discussion, themed, ‘Accelerating Renewables Deployment’ moderated by Mr Mihir Sharma, Director, Centre for the Economy and Growth, Observer Research Foundation and featured Mr Rupesh Agarwal, CEO, Azure Power; Mr Simon Harford, CEO, Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP); Ms Anita George, Co-Founder, Edhina Capital; and Prof. Navroz Dubash, Professor, Centre for Policy Research as panellists.

The panel emphasised that consuming electricity is pivotal for households and communities to lift themselves out of poverty. Without abundant access to electricity, underserved homes, businesses and communities have a minimal chance of achieving a high economic and social well-being in today’s increasing energy-enabled economies. Investors and investments come in when things are commercially viable and sustainable, combined with an enabling environment. Costs have, over the years, come down, but it’s cut-throat on the ground. The opportunity is enormous, but project development takes time. Increasing technology access, adoption, and blended finance are some of the answers. The sector also keeps evolving, and therefore, what worked a couple of years ago will not apply in the next five. Innovations in technology have ensured the megawatt to gigawatt transition, but other vital aspects of addressing institutional and policy issues need to be resolved. A wide array of solutions and partnerships need to be aligned for a people-centric transition.


About the International Solar Alliance


The International Solar Alliance is an international organisation with 114 Member and Signatory countries. It works with governments to improve energy access and security worldwide and promote solar power as a sustainable transition to a carbon-neutral future.

ISA’s mission is to unlock US$ 1 trillion of investments in solar by 2030 while reducing the cost of the technology and its financing. It promotes the use of solar energy in the Agriculture, Health, Transport and Power Generation sectors. ISA member countries are driving change by enacting policies and regulations, sharing best practices, agreeing on common standards, and mobilising investments. Through this work, ISA has identified and designed and tested new business models for solar projects; supported governments to make their energy legislation and policies solar-friendly through Ease of Doing Solar analytics and advisory; pooled demand for solar technology from different countries; and drove down costs; improved access to finance by reducing the risks and making the sector more attractive to private investment; increased access to solar training, data and insights for solar engineers and energy policymakers.

With the signing and ratifying the ISA Framework Agreement by 15 countries on 6 December 2017, ISA became the first international intergovernmental organisation to be headquartered in India. ISA is partnering with multilateral development banks (MDBs), development financial institutions (DFIs), private and public sector organisations, civil society, and other international institutions to deploy cost-effective and transformational solutions through solar energy, especially in the least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

About the Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation that enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal and sustainable. Our focus is on scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, and ensuring equitable access to health care and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.