Villagers switches on a light powered by solar energy in the village of Morabandar on Elephanta Island, off the coast of Mumbai (SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

By Lauren Codling

THE UK government announced on Monday (16) it would be joining forces with the Indian-led International Solar Alliance (ISA) to help provide over 1 billion of the world’s poorest population with “clean, affordable” energy.

Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, revealed the “momentous occasion” ahead of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Great Britain later in the week.

“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,” Mordaunt said.

The ISA was initially launched by the Indian premier and then French president Francois Hollande at the United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference in 2015.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and French President Emmanuel Macron pose during the inauguration of a solar power plant in Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh state on March 12. (LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The project is currently aiming to raise $1,000 billion, which can ensure they can deliver clean and affordable energy to almost a billion people who currently lack access to it.

Mordaunt added without India’s leadership, the ISA would not have progressed as fast or as far as it already has, noting the impact it has already had on millions of people.

“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,” she remarked.

The cemented membership between the UK and the ISA was officially unveiled at an event held at the London Stock Exchange and organised as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM).

With support from the UK, the ISA will develop solar water pumping projects. The projects will mean farmers can use cheaper solar power – rather than diesel pumps – to water their crops.

The initiative will mean farmers can use cheaper solar power to water their crops

Also, by providing UK expertise, the number of ‘mini grids’ supplying power to remote areas that cannot be reached by the main electricity grid will be increased. This subsequently means rural communities will have more access to affordable energy to power their homes and businesses, ensuring they can be provided with reliable energy sources.

“The signing of this treaty…demonstrates [the UK’s] continued commitment to providing the very best of British expertise to the renewable energy sector,” Mordaunt said.

Since its initial launch, the climate treaty has brought together more than 60 countries who have promised to increase solar power, which can help ensure businesses have access to phone and internet access and health facilities can offer life-saving treatment for those who need it.

The UK will be the 62nd country to join the ISA, alongside other Commonwealth nations such as Australia, Bangladesh and Uganda.