RenewableEnergyWorld.com, January 29, 2009
On January 28, 2009, the launch of a long-planned international agency to promote the interests of renewable energy took place in Bonn, Germany. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will advise industrialized and developing nations on ways of reducing their dependency on oil, coal and gas.
The new agency aims to counterbalance existing bodies like the International Energy Agency in France and the nuclear–focused IRENA in Vienna. Founder countries signing up to the agreement include Germany, Denmark, Spain and the UAE. Some 55 governments have committed to full IRENA membership, with a total of 116 countries taking part. Significant absentees from full membership were USA and UK, although both administrations are expected to send officials to observe.
Speaking at the opening event, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the potential for renewable energies is huge, and needs more help to achieve a global breakthrough. “IRENA will be the new mouthpiece for renewable energies,” he said.
The new organization aims to facilitate the transfer of renewable technologies to developing countries and encourage the widespread adoption of renewable energy.
There is expected to be competition for the host country for IRENA with Bonn and Abu Dhabi having already thrown their hats into the ring. Abu Dhabi is pushing itself forward as a hub for renewable energy research and development with the construction of the Masdar sustainable city, the announcement last week of a seven per cent renewable energy target by 2010, and the hosting of the World Future Energy Summit. Speaking at the Summit last week, Masdar CEO Dr Sultan Al Jabar said, “Abu Dhabi will express keen interest in hosting IRENA in Masdar city”.
German Member of Parliament and long-time proponent of a body to represent the interest of renewable energy, Hermann Sheer said, “Renewable energy’s potential has been underestimated in the past. This international organization will create a level playing field and help governments develop policies tailored to their own requirements.”
Thailand Energy Minister Wannarat Charnukul, who is attending the opening ceremony, last week welcomed the launch of IRENA. “We’ve confronted some problems with solar energy development in Thailand so we need some technology transfer from IRENA,” Wannaret said.
Germany, Spain and Denmark initially campaigned for the foundation of a renewable energy organization. The preliminary framework was drawn up in Madrid in October 2008.