Governments signal support for global energy transformation at IRENA Assembly
More than 1100 representatives of governments from 150 countries met in Abu Dhabi to attend the Eighth Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which took place on 13 to 14 January. As the world’s principal platform for international cooperation on renewable energy, the Assembly provided strategic guidance to the work of the Agency for the next four years and position it to play a key role in driving the global energy transformation.
“As renewable energy costs decline, technology advances and deployment accelerates around the world, we are entering a new age of energy transformation, with renewable energy becoming a significant driver of economic growth, job creation and socioeconomic development while also addressing climate change and reducing air pollution,” says IRENA director-general Adnan Z Amin.
“At the IRENA Assembly, our global membership will set the direction of the Agency in the coming years and chart a roadmap for the energy system of the future – a future that will be increasingly decarbonised, decentralised and digitalised,” he adds.
Since 2013, more than USD 1 trillion has been invested in renewables globally and today the industry accounts for nearly 10 million jobs worldwide. As countries, cities and corporates drive progress towards a low-carbon energy system, the Assembly took stock of progress in renewables deployment and the decarbonisation of the electricity system, as well as end-use sectors such as heating, cooling and transportation.
President of the Assembly, and Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining for Uruguay, Carolina Cosse, says: “Uruguay is honoured to preside over the eighth session of the Assembly of IRENA, an organisation that plays a central role in promoting renewable energy worldwide. Uruguay is proof that high shares of variable renewable energy can be successfully integrated into the energy mix.
“Just last year, 97 percent of our electricity was generated by renewables, out of which 35 percent came from wind and over 60 percent of our primary mix is renewable – mainly based on the use of biofuels,” continues Minister Cosse. “This year marks our fifth without the need to import power, as well as increasing our exports to neighbouring countries. Our next challenge is to move forward on electric transportation and I believe Uruguay is ready to be the next regional platform where this technology can be developed and implemented.”
Highlights of this year’s Assembly included:
- Release of the Agency’s report on renewable energy power generation costs, tracking the degree to which costs competitiveness of renewable energy has entered an era of competitive advantage based on its strong business case.
- Two high-level Ministerial Roundtables to identify concrete ways to accelerate investment in renewable energy and explore innovations and synergies between transport sector electrification and renewable energy.
- Launch of the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, which will examine how growing renewables deployment will impact geopolitical dynamics.
- A two-day meeting of international legislators on renewable energy policy-making, including a day-long event with the UAE Federal National Council, which discussed the role of renewables in advancing the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in addressing climate change.
- A high-level ministerial event that sought to improve the capacity of small island developing states to develop and finance renewable energy projects.
- Programmatic discussions also took place on a range of topics including renewable energy policy, geothermal energy, scaling up solar PV, bioenergy for sustainable development and renewable energy in the context of sustainable development and implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement on climate.
- Finally, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and IRENA announced the recipients of funding allocated through the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility.
IRENA also held a one-of-a-kind art exhibition called Visions of Sustainability. Renowned sound artist Bill Fontana presented multimedia works on renewable energy created especially for the event, and sustainability thought leader William McDonough and initiator and pilot of Solar Impulse Bertrand Piccard shared their visions for a sustainable future.
Image courtesy of IRENA.