IRENA organizes in Germany

By Bryan Sims
In January, more than 100 representatives of countries worldwide congregated in Bonn, Germany, for the founding meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an organization formed to promote a rapid transition toward the global and sustainable use of renewable energy. Seventy-five countries signed IRENA's founding document.

IRENA's primary objectives include: facilitating access to reliable data on the potential of renewable energy, best practices, effective financial mechanisms and cutting-edge technological expertise; providing practical advice and support for both industrialized and developing nations in order to help them build their regulatory frameworks and building capacities; developing comprehensive solutions that foster all types of renewable energy and consider various renewable energy policies on local, regional and national levels; considering specific environmental, economic and sociocultural conditions; and involving stakeholders from the energy industry, academia, institutions and civil society.

Notable speakers at IRENA's meeting included Andris Piebalgs, energy commissioner for the European Commission; Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, federal minister for Germany's Economic Cooperation and Development; and Sigmar Gabriel, federal minister for Germany's Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

Representatives from the American Council on Renewable Energy attended the founding meeting of IRENA as an invited observer. The U.S. was represented by a member of the U.S. State Department Embassy in Berlin. Biomass Magazine was unable to confirm whether the U.S. is considering membership in IRENA. "It is a major aim of the member states to involve the U.S. in the new agency," according to the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

The process of establishing key personnel within IRENA is underway. The agency is expected to be functional by summer, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety said.