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Germany steers establishment of International Renewable Energies Agency

July 04, 2008

Faced with rising energy prices and the impact of climate change, there is global interest in promoting renewable energy sources. From 30th June – 1st July 2008 the German government organised an international preparatory workshop in Berlin to discuss setting up an International Renewable Energies Agency (IRENA).

According to a report prepared by the German Federal government, the world's energy needs may increase by 50% or more by 2030 if economies continue to grow and expand at current rates. Satisfying growing energy demands with fossil fuels and nuclear power is becoming increasingly difficult and costly. Oil prices have galloped over the last year; exceeding USD 100 a barrel for the first time in 2008. Prices for other conventional energy sources are rising fast as well.

In addition, according to the report more than 1.6 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity, and over two billion rely on wood and dung for fuel consumption. Constructing new grids to reach these people will often be prohibitively expensive, while using fossil fuels as an energy source has negative implications for health. Renewable energies can make a major contribution to this end. So far there has been no international organisation in place focusing on supporting and providing concrete advice to industrialised and developing countries on the expansion of renewable energies and the setting of better regulatory frameworks.

The first proposal for an international renewable energy agency was made in 1981 at the United Nations Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy in Nairobi. International cooperation over renewable energy was further strengthened following the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002.

Together with governments of other interested nations, the German Federal government aims to set up an International Renewable Energies Agency (IRENA). The Bundestag – German Parliament – supports this endeavour and on 19th June voted in favour of the establishment of IRENA by a large majority.

IRENA’s main objective will be to foster and promote the large-scale adoption of renewable energy worldwide. This overall objective will be met through a number of concrete targets: improved regulatory frameworks for renewable energy through enhanced policy advice; improvements in the transfer of renewable energy technology; progress on skills and know-how for renewable energy; a scientifically sound information base through applied policy research; and better financing of renewable energy.

Through its objective, IRENA would help to reduce the pressure on finite energy sources, provide a sound basis for meeting future energy demand, help stabilise energy prices, improve access to energy particularly for the world’s poorest, combat climate change and increase energy security. At the same time, it is expected to contribute to economic growth and job creation.

The preparatory process for setting up the agency is now entering its final stage. Following a preparatory conference on 10th and 11th April 2008 in Berlin, the German government organised an international workshop from 30th June to 1st July 2008 in Berlin. 100 participants from 40 countries came together, and in two parallel working groups they discussed the preliminary work programme and the statutes and funding of the agency. The participants of the workshop agreed that a swift start-up of IRENA was expedient and necessary. There was also a consensus on the basic structure of IRENA. Furthermore, broad agreement could also be found on the activities IRENA should concentrate on from the outset. These would include policy advice, technology transfer and the development of competencies.

A decision was taken to hold a final preparatory conference in autumn of this year to finalise IRENA’s statutes. The formal establishment of IRENA is expected at the beginning of 2009 with an official signing ceremony in Bonn. The preparatory process in Germany is being steered by the Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development in close cooperation with the German Foreign Office.



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