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 January 29, 2009
International Renewable Energy Agency Established

 Delegates from 120 governments meeting in Bonn, Germany this week launched a new intergovernmental agency focused on the development of renewable energy sources.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will promote renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, water and geothermal, by informing and advising countries on regulations, financing and technology expertise.

The German Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said at the official launch of IRENA "Many countries have recognized the opportunities which renewable energies offer for climate protection, security of supply, economic growth and employment. IRENA gives renewables an international voice and political impetus. The Agency will be the global platform for renewable energies."

The German government’s initiative for the founding of IRENA was actively supported from the outset by Spain and Denmark. The aim of the new Agency is to close throughout the world the gap between the enormous potential of renewables and their current relatively low market share in energy consumption.

Dr R.K. Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, emphasized that international collaboration on renewable energy is a necessary, if elusive, practical solution to dismantling existing barriers to implementing renewable energy in most parts of the world. ’I am a strong supporter of the International Renewable Energy Agency’, he stated, adding ’IRENA is a very important development for the mitigation of greenhouse gases and sustainable development.’

IRENA is the first international organization to focus exclusively on the issue of renewable energies. The main work of IRENA will be to advise its members on creating the right frameworks, building capacity and improving financing and the transfer of technology and know-how for renewable energies.

The first constituent meeting of the Preparatory Commission, to which all signatory states belong, also met this week and adopted criteria and procedures for selecting IRENA’s interim Director-General and its interim headquarters. In June 2009 the Preparatory Commission will meet in Egypt to decide on the location of the Agency’s headquarters and to elect the first Director-General.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signalled it will "aggressively pursue" the right to host the newly-formed agency in its flagship Masdar City project, Masdar CEO Sultan Al Jaber said last week.

The US was not among the signatories to IRENA, but sent an observer from its embassy in Berlin. John Geesman, co-chairman of the board of directors at the American Council on Renewable Energy, urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to revisit the decision of the Bush administration to opt-out of joining the agency.

 "We are hopeful and confident that the US  will reverse the decision of the Bush administration not to join IRENA, and return the US to world leadership on renewable energy, a matter that is a priority of the new administration in Washington," he said.

Canada also was not a signatory to the establishment of the new organization.

The founding of IRENA is a milestone on the road towards a future-oriented energy supply. It is a clear sign that the global energy paradigm is changing and that more and more governments are committed to accelerating that shift.

Among the 75 founding countries are many European countries, including France, Italy and Poland, and many developing nations from Africa, such as Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda, from Asia, like the Republic of Korea and the Philippines, and from Latin America, including Guatemala, Chile and Argentina (download the list of Signatory States here).

See also IRENA - Joining Forces, an article by José Etcheverry, assistant professor at York University, Toronto and president of the Canadian Renewable Energy Alliance.

For More Information: International Renewable Energy Agency