Category Archives: COP21

IRENA Welcomes Paris Climate Agreement as ‘watershed for the global energy transition’

IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin issued the following statement after the adoption of the Paris Agreement at the COP21 Climate Conference:

“Yesterday the global community was united in voicing commitment for decisive, inclusive and coordinated action on climate change. The Paris Agreement provides a framework for international cooperation and sends a clear signal to all stakeholders to raise their ambition. Continue reading IRENA Welcomes Paris Climate Agreement as ‘watershed for the global energy transition’

Clean Energy Corridor Initiative Expands to West Africa

A star-studded panel of eight key African leaders convened on the sidelines of COP21 yesterday to discuss plans to meet Africa’s current and future energy needs through renewable energy.

Africa is going through a sustained period of economic growth and transformation with consistent GDP growth rates of 6 to 7% per year. If current growth rates are maintained, Africa’s GDP will increase three-fold by 2030 and seven-fold by 2050. To meet growing electricity demand, and to improve electricity access, Africa must triple or quadruple its current capacity.

Thankfully, the continent has huge stores of renewable energy from wind and solar, to geothermal and hydropower. Analysis shows that renewable energy could feasibly meet half the continent’s power needs by 2030. Continue reading Clean Energy Corridor Initiative Expands to West Africa

The Reliability of Renewable Energy Systems: Why the Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong

Originally published at The Huffington Post

For the first time at any UN climate conference, renewable energy is taking center stage from now through “Energy Day” on December 7th. And for good reason.

Renewable energy, no longer the new kid on the block, is now capturing market share from fossil fuels and nuclear energy at an unprecedented rate. The world installed more renewable energy capacity over the past three years than nuclear and fossil fuels combined, disrupting the energy sector and the business case for conventional energy models.

Fact-based arguments and objective scientific evidence aren’t given enough attention in the struggle to win the hearts and minds of decision makers and the public. Some of this may be chalked up to what academics refer to as “incumbents’ inertia” in the face of technological change. Some point to more sinister motives by those who have the most to lose financially from a changing industry. Continue reading The Reliability of Renewable Energy Systems: Why the Conventional Wisdom Is Wrong

Energy Day at COP21: Unlocking Climate Solutions

An increasing number of governments, businesses and cities are taking action to accelerate the ongoing renewable energy transition. To spur momentum at COP21, yesterday was designated Energy Day in the context of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA).

As described on the LPAA website, “The Lima-Paris Action Agenda brings both state and non-state actors together on the global stage to accelerate cooperative climate action now and into the future in support of the new, universal climate change agreement which governments will reach in Paris.”

Given the massive global focus on the Paris negotiations, it was no surprise that a slew of exciting new commitments were announced. The program for the day was literally packed with speakers and discussion panels. Continue reading Energy Day at COP21: Unlocking Climate Solutions

RE-Energising the Future: Renewable Energy Solutions Showcased in Paris

Renewable energy solutions, innovation and action were showcased yesterday in Paris at the ‘RE-Energising the Future’ international conference – a gathering of governments, businesses and civil society organized by IRENA and several partners.

Government representatives including Moroccan Energy Minister Abdelkader Amara, Governor Jerry Brown of California, and Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney, inspired the audience with their ambitious plans for scaling up renewable energy. A central feature of the discussion was that renewable energy is a key solution to three existential security challenges: climate, economy and energy supply. It was noted that having strong policy in place is essential for accelerating energy efficiency and the deployment of renewables at the scale and speed necessary to address the climate challenge. Continue reading RE-Energising the Future: Renewable Energy Solutions Showcased in Paris

Renewable Energy: A Win-Win Solution for Islands

On 2 December at COP21 in Paris, IRENA and Germany hosted an event to celebrate and strengthen win-win renewable solutions for small island developing states (SIDS).

Island states are on the front lines of climate change, threatened by sea level rise, tidal surges as storms increase in intensity, and decreased food security as the ocean becomes increasingly acidified. By adopting transformative renewable energy strategies, island states demonstrate the kind of leadership required to deal with the climate crisis. Continue reading Renewable Energy: A Win-Win Solution for Islands

Harnessing the Earth’s Heat for Climate Action

Tapping into the earth’s heat to produce geothermal energy offers the world enormous benefits. Proven resources exist in nearly 90 countries, but 90% of it still remains underground. For this reason, IRENA hosted a high-level workshop during COP21 to discuss the potential of this promising source of renewable energy, and ways to overcome the barriers which hold it back.

First some good news:

Mr. Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland – the world’s leader in harvesting geothermal energy – explained that 90% of all space-heating and close to 30% of all electricity in Iceland comes from geothermal sources. And that share will continue to grow as a result of vigorous expansion plans.

Mrs. Soifiat Tadjiddine Alfeine of Comoros described how the island is currently exploring its geothermal potential, and is in the planning phase for a 10MW geothermal plant with support from New Zealand. It is expected that geothermal energy could play a major role in addressing the island’s energy needs.

Indonesia plans to invest USD 20 billion to install an additional 2GW of capacity over the next 10 years, tripling its current installed capacity.


As for the less good news:

Speakers identified a range of challenges which the industry faces. These include: risks of exploration; high upfront development costs; human resource limitations; and regulatory difficulties. Moreover the simple lack of awareness about the promise and benefits of geothermal energy is a major barrier to its development – but also perhaps the easiest to overcome in the end. It was emphasized, however, that none of these obstacles are insurmountable.

Which brings us to some very good news:

On December 7, Energy Day at COP21, the Global Geothermal Alliance (GGA) will formally launch. The GGA will address investment challenges and help create the conditions for a rapid expansion of this key renewable resource. Its aim will be to break through existing barriers and achieve a 500% increase in global installed capacity for geothermal power generation, and a 200% increase in geothermal heating by 2030.

In development for two years, the GGA has attracted more than 40 countries and institutional partners. Its ambition will be nothing short of ensuring hundreds of millions of people are able to benefit from this clean and reliable source of renewable energy.

7 Things You Need to Know about Renewable Energy at COP21

As world leaders take the stage today at the opening of COP21, transitioning to a world powered by renewable energy will be at the core of their messages, whether they explicitly say so or not. Here are seven things you need to know about renewable energy as it relates to COP21:

ONE: Renewable energy is key to decarbonisation: A crucial issue on the table at COP21 is whether to adopt a long-term decarbonisation goal. To date, more than 120 countries have expressed support for such an approach. Given that the energy sector accounts for two-thirds of global emissions, renewable energy will be central to achieving whatever goal is ultimately adopted.

TWO: Energy Day is part of the Renewable Energy Track at the COP: The RE track will kick-off with a series of workshops on December 4 aimed at identifying and demonstrating important opportunities and benefits offered by renewables in a range of sectors including agriculture, industry, cities and transport.

THREE: Exciting developments and innovations will be live streamed: On Sunday, December 6, a high level conference will be held in the heart of Paris looking at exciting developments and innovations in relation to renewable energy. The program and speaker line-up is available here, and while attendance is by invitation-only the conference will be live-streamed (URL to be announced at

FOUR: Paris isn’t Copenhagen: The renewable energy landscape has changed dramatically in the six years since the last major UN climate conference in Copenhagen, 2009. Solar PV module costs have fallen as much as 80% since then, and wind turbine prices have fallen by almost a third. In just the last three years, the world added more than 100 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity every year – a number equivalent to the total installed generation capacity of Brazil. Renewable energy technologies are creating more jobs on average than fossil fuel technologies.

FIVE: It’s all about momentum: Renewable energy is a good news story, changing the climate narrative from one of sacrifice to one of opportunity. This allows governments to commit to going farther and faster, and thus creates momentum for the COP. The reverse is also true: it is the countries with strong renewable targets and enabling policies in place where deployment is increasing the fastest. COP21 has the power to speed up the renewable energy transition by taking decisions which put the world on a pathway to keeping global temperature rise as far below 2°C is possible.

SIX: Countries are making bold commitments: Countries representing more than 90% of the global economy have submitted pledges (INDCs in COP terminology) to reduce their emissions. Nearly all of them address energy consumption or production. In addition, 164 countries have adopted renewable energy targets aimed at speeding up the transition.

SEVEN: Monday December 7 is Energy Action Day at COP21: The morning will focus on renewable energy, while energy access will be addressed in the afternoon. A wide range of new initiatives will be announced by governments and business. More information here.

To join the conversation about renewable energy during COP21, follow #REenergise on Twitter.


Renewables Are Changing the Climate Narrative from Sacrifice to Opportunity

Originally published in The Guardian

Oil-rich countries are choosing renewables as a means to create jobs, boost GDP and improve livelihoods – as well as reduce emissions

Accelerating signs of climate change and rising global temperatures are perhaps more pressing here in the Middle East, where IRENA is headquartered, than anywhere else on the planet.

Record-breaking temperatures made global headlines this year and a recent scientific study predicts the region will face heatwaves “beyond the limit of human survival” if climate change remains unchecked.

Indications are clear that after more than 20 years of negotiations among more than 190 countries, the UN climate conference in Paris in December – COP21 – will be a turning point in the fight against climate change. For the first time at any climate conference, renewable energy solutions will take centre stage in a series of high-profile events coupled with new commitments and announcements.

In doing so, it will also transform the climate change narrative from one of managing constraints to one of opportunity…

Read more at The Guardian.

IRENA’s Five Actions for a Sustainable Energy Future

IRENA released a report this week that lays out a plan to limit global temperature rise. Rethinking Energy 2015 –Renewable Energy and Climate finds that reducing carbon emissions through the use of renewables and improving energy efficiency could mitigate the effects of climate change. Specifically, achieving a 36 per cent share of renewable energy, combined with implementing energy efficiency measures, would maintain global temperature rise to below 2oC.

“The energy sector accounts for more than two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore must be the focus of climate action. Transitioning rapidly to a future fueled by renewable energy, accompanied by increasing energy efficiency, is the most effective way to limit global temperature rise. This transition is underway but it must be accelerated if we are to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius.” – Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General

The report presents the following five actions that would further accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and secure a sustainable energy future:

  1. Strengthen the policy commitment to renewable energy. Enabling policies and regulatory frameworks create stable and predictable investment environments, help to overcome barriers, and ensure predictable revenue streams for projects. Setting renewable energy targets and formulating dedicated policies to implement them provides strong market signals, reflecting government commitment to the sector’s development.
  1. Mobilise investments in renewable energy. Public funding will remain an important catalyst and will need to increase, but the lion’s share of new investment in renewables will have to come from the private sector. To mobilise private investment, the strategy pursued must focus on risk mitigation instruments and structured finance tools to develop a strong pipeline of projects, and to unlock project financing and refinancing opportunities.
  1. Build institutional, technical and human capacity to support renewable energy deployment. From policy and regulatory design to project preparation, evaluation, development and financing, a wide array of skills needs to be built up in government ministries, financing institutions and regulatory agencies. And coordination between them is vital, in order to ensure, for instance, that physical infrastructure and complementary regulations, such as grid codes, keep pace with accelerating renewable energy development..
  1. Harness the cross-cutting impact of renewable energy on sustainable development. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on energy will transform the energy system while helping meet other SDGs such as those on health, poverty alleviation, water and cities. Access to reliable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable modern energy services can have a multiplier development impact. In particular, renewable energy solutions can expand electricity access, increase productivity, create jobs, improve water security and bolster poverty alleviation efforts. The wider sustainable development impact of renewable energy must be taken into account when strategies for the implementation of SDGs are developed.
  1. Enhance regional engagement and international cooperation on renewable energy development. Regional approaches and common initiatives can reduce costs, generate economies of scale, attract investments, boost financial capacity, stimulate cross-border trade and enable common progress in accelerating the deployment of renewable energy worldwide. To meet national goals and ambitions, countries would benefit from concerted action on renewables and climate mitigation that regional and international cooperation offers.

2015-11-25 01.13.17_newsroomRethinking Energy launch event on 22 November 2015 at IRENA Headquarters, Abu Dhabi, UAE. From left to right: Upendra Tripathy, Secretary, Minister of New and Renewable Energy, India; Conrod Hunte, Ambassador, Antigua and Barbuda; Martin Schoepe, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany and IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin.

“It is now not a question of if the world ultimately transitions to a renewable energy future, but rather whether it will do so quickly enough. At the upcoming climate talks in Paris, it will be up to countries to commit to strong targets, and in turn, give a strong political signal to catalyse further investments in renewable energy.” – Adnan Z. Amin, IRENA Director-General

REthinking Energy – Renewable Energy and Climate is the second edition of the series outlining progress in the transition to a sustainable energy future.

Download the full report.

More photos from the launch event.

 Renewable energy events at COP21: