International Renewable Energy Agency

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a center of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security, and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.

Historical Background
Why and when was it founded?
The proposal for an international agency dedicated to renewable energy was made in 1981 at the United Nations Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy, held in Nairobi, Kenya. The idea was further discussed and developed by major organizations in the field of renewable energy, such as Eurosolar.

As global interest in renewable energy steadily increased, world leaders convened in several settings to focus on renewable energy policies, financing, and technology. Key meetings included the World Summit for Sustainable Development 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the annual G-8 Gleneagles Dialogue, the 2005 Beijing International Renewable Energy Conference, and the 2004 Bonn International Renewable Energy Conference.

The Bonn conference’s concluding resolution included support for the establishment of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), supported by the International Parliamentary Forum on Renewable Energies. It would take just a few years more for the idea to become a reality.

IRENA’s first Preparatory Conference (Berlin, 10-11 April 2008)
With the demand for energy growing rapidly and climate-change concerns rising, the meeting of the “IRENA Initiative” came at a critical juncture. A total of 170 representatives from 60 states expressed their overall support for the founding of a IRENA as early as possible, the objective was clear: IRENA should become the first intergovernmental organization dedicated to promoting renewable energy.

Preparatory Workshops (Berlin, 30 June – 1 July 2008)
Two preparatory workshops were convened in Berlin from 30 June 2008 to 1 July 2008. More than 100 representatives of more than 44 states attended and addressed the founding treaty of IRENA (the IRENA Statute), the financing mechanisms, and the outline of an initial work program. The workshops were yet another important step in the establishment of IRENA.

IRENA’s final Preparatory Conference (Madrid, 23-24 October 2008)
The Final Preparatory Conference took place just a few months later, underlining the strong global commitment to the new agency. More than 150 representatives from 51 states gathered to discuss the key issues that would ultimately enable an IRENA to start operating in the form of a preparatory commission by January 2009.

IRENA Founding Conference (Bonn, 26 January 2009)
IRENA was officially founded in Bonn, Germany, on 26 January 2009. Its Founding Conference remains a significant milestone for world renewable energy deployment. Governments worldwide made clear their commitment to changing the global energy paradigm, with 75 states signing the IRENA Statute at the time.

IRENA Preparatory Commission Sessions (2009-2011)
Five sessions of the Preparatory Commission for IRENA were held between 2009 and 2011. At the second session in June 2009, Abu Dhabi, of the United Arab Emirates, was selected to host the interim headquarters of IRENA. Helene Pelosse, a French citizen, was appointed Interim Director-General.

  • First session (January 26, 2009)
  • Second session (Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, June 29-30, 2009
  • Third session (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, January 17, 2010)
  • Fourth session (Abu Dhabi, October 24-25, 2010)
  • Fifth session (Abu Dhabi, 3 April 2011)

Following the entry into force of the IRENA Statute on 8 July 2010, preparations began for the First Assembly of IRENA. On 4 April 2011, only three years after the first conference to discuss IRENA’s formation, the preparatory commission was disbanded and IRENA was officially born.

Institutional Structure
The principal organs of the Agency are:
1. The Assembly
This is IRENA’s ultimate decision-making authority, made up of one representative from each Member. It convenes annually to discuss and decide upon issues such as the work programme, budget, adoption of reports, applications for membership and potential amendments to agency activities.
2. The Council
The IRENA Council is composed of 21 Member States elected for a two-year term and is accountable to the Assembly. Council members serve on a rotating basis to ensure the effective participation of both developing and developed countries and a fair and equitable geographical distribution. The Council’s responsibilities include facilitating consultation and cooperation among IRENA Members and reviewing the draft work programme, draft budget and annual report.
3. The Secretariat
The Secretariat, which comprises the Director-General and his staff, provides administrative and technical support to the Assembly, the Council and their subsidiary bodies. It is responsible, among other things, for preparing and submitting the agency’s draft work program, budget, and annual report and for implementing the work programme.

IRENA Membership
The IRENA Statute stipulates that membership in the agency is open to those states that are members of the United Nations, and to regional intergovernmental economic integration organizations. Hence it has 160 countries including INDIA.Figure: 1. Growth in IRENA Membership.

Objectives and Mandate
1. IRENA serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a center of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.
2. It promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy
3. It promotes sustainable development, energy access, energy security, and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.
4. With a mandate from countries around the world, IRENA also encourages governments to adopt enabling policies for renewable energy investments
5. It provides practical tools and policy advice to accelerate renewable energy deployment.
6. It facilitates knowledge sharing and technology transfer to provide clean, sustainable energy for the world’s growing population.
7. It provides annual reviews of renewable energy employment
8. Renewable energy capacity statistic
9. Renewable energy cost studies
10. It provides the Global Atlas, which maps resource potential by source and by location
11. It provides Renewable energy technology briefs

12. It facilitates for regional renewable energy planning
13. It provides Renewable energy project development tools like the Project Navigator, the Sustainable Energy Marketplace and the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility.
14. It advises and influences policy-making of nations as well as international organizations.
15. It enhances technology transfer, thereby leveling the playing field for all actors.

Project facilitation
Project facilitation activities support the deployment of renewable energy projects by helping project developers secure financing more efficiently and supporting investors and lenders to build stronger project portfolios. The benefits of project facilitation include increasing financing flows towards renewable energy projects, strengthening the renewable energy project development base, enhancing the quality of renewable energy project proposals, linking renewable energy project stakeholders via hubs and networks and disseminating knowledge and information on bankable renewable energy projects. To improve project quality, market visibility, access to finance, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) facilitates renewable energy project development and financing via its online platforms which are-

1. The IRENA Global Atlas

An online geographic information platform providing resource assessment and mapping data covering solar, wind, bioenergy, geothermal and marine energy.
2. The IRENA Project Navigator
An online platform providing easily accessible, and practical information, tools and guidance to assist in the development of bankable renewable energy projects.
3. The IRENA Sustainable Energy Marketplace
A virtual marketplace connecting renewable energy project owners, financiers/investors, services providers, and technology suppliers.
4. The IRENA/ADFD Project Facility
A joint financing facility dedicated to financing renewable energy projects recommended by IRENA in developing countries.

Recent Developments
Innovations in renewable energy encompass all new approaches that help to overcome barriers and result in an accelerated deployment of renewables to support the energy transition. Innovative solutions to decarbonize the global energy sector require combining various policy instruments across the whole technology lifecycle, from R&D to market scale-up, as well as the development of new smart technologies, information technology, new types of financial and market instruments, business models and the engagement of new actors across the energy systems. IRENA Provides technology brief reports on various issues related to renewable energy, one of the very important briefs on India’s energy issue is as- IRENA-WRI analysis finds that urgent action can significantly lower intensities of water withdrawal and consumption, while substantially reducing carbon emissions intensity by 2030.

Abu Dhabi, UAE, 16 January 2018 – A new policy brief co-authored by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) finds that increasing the share of renewables, in particular solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind, in India’s power mix, and implementing changes in cooling technologies mandated for thermal power plants would not only lower carbon emissions intensity, but also substantially reduce water withdrawal and consumption intensity of power generation.

The brief, Water Use in India’s Power Generation – Impact of Renewables and Improved Cooling Technologies to 2030, finds that depending on the future energy pathways (IRENA’s REmap 2030 and the Central Electricity Authority of India), a power sector (excluding hydroelectricity) transformation driven by solar PV and wind, coupled with improved cooling technologies in thermal and other renewable power plants, could yield as much as an 84% decrease in water withdrawal intensity by 2030, lower annual water consumption intensity by 25% and reduce carbon emissions intensity by 43%, compared to 2014 levels.

REmap – Renewable Energy Roadmaps
IRENA’s REmap program determines the potential for countries, regions and the world to scale up renewables. REmap assesses renewable energy potential assembled from the bottom-up, starting with country analyses done in collaboration with country experts, and then aggregating these results to arrive at a global picture.
The roadmap focuses not just on renewable power technologies, but also on technology options in heating, cooling, and transport. REmap focuses on possible technology pathways and assesses numerous other metrics, including technology, sector and system costs; investment needs; externalities relating to air pollution and climate; CO2 emissions; and economic indicators such as employment and economic growth. Based on these country has driven results, REmap provides insights to policy and decision-makers for areas in which action is needed.
The REmap program includes a wide range of knowledge products, reports, datasets, and documents.

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