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Busby on the International Solar Alliance and Indian Geopolitical Influence

Oct 31, 2019 |

Joshua Busby, Distinguished Scholar at the Strauss Center, co-wrote an essay for the 26th Volume of Energy Strategy Reviews. In his essay, “One more try: The International Solar Alliance and India’s search for geopolitical influence,” Busby analyzes the intention’s behind India’s cofounding of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) jointly with France at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. The ISA is the first international organization headquartered in India and primarily aims to promote solar electricity in the sunshine belt of states mostly between the tropic of Cancer and tropic of Capricorn. India has had recent successes with the establishment of a fellows program to share lessons learned, solar export credits, and pooling credit risks for borrowing.

Although recent visibility and publicity suggests that India intends to use the ISA as an instrument for geopolitical influence, they are hampered by their limited capacity for financial support and lack of solar technology innovation or low-cost production. Busby theorizes a three-stage path to geopolitical influence and analyzes the respective challenges, including their domestic program, building effective partnerships, avoiding over-bureaucratization, and establishing added value. He then relates the concepts of leadership, status, and influence to set the stage for India’s desires for enhanced status. Finally, he reviews domestic solar policies and ISA actions and concludes with thoughts on their prospects and limits of fulfilling their strategy of becoming a global leader. 

Read the full journal here.