Sian Crampsie

India and France have taken the lead in the creation of an international solar alliance designed to boost investment in solar energy in developing countries.

Indian prime minister Narendera Modi and French president Francois Hollande launched the alliance of 120 countries at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on 30 November.

The countries backing the alliance support the initiative "as a common platform for cooperation among solar resource-rich countries lying … between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn".

A declaration signed by the founding members of the alliance states their intention to promote green, clean and sustainable energy from the sun, and to "undertake innovative and concerted efforts" to reduce the cost of finance and cost of technology for deploying solar generation assets.

"Solar technology is evolving, costs are coming down and grid connectivity is improving," said Modi. "The dream of universal access to clean energy is becoming more real."

James Watson, CEO of Solar Power Europe, said: "We commend Prime Minister Modi and India as a whole for spearheading this collaborative initiative which recognises solar as a key solution to fight climate change whilst providing clean and affordable energy to millions of people. We wish the International Solar Alliance a fruitful two weeks in Paris and look forward to future cooperation."

The Indian government will invest an initial $30 million to set up a headquarters for the alliance in India. The goal is to raise $400 million through membership fees and international agencies.

Companies supporting the alliance include Engie, Tata Steel, Enel and Areva.