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IEA Executive Director Calls for a Systems Approach to Clean Energy

27 February 2013: In a keynote address delivered at the World Smart Energy Week in Tokyo, Japan, Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), has stated that the system-wide integration of clean and efficient energy technologies is essential in the transition to a sustainable and secure energy future.

In her speech, titled "Clean Energy: Taking a Systems Approach," van der Hoeven remarked, "Today's system is centralised and unidirectional, where tomorrow's will be decentralised and multi-directional. Complex and diverse individual technologies will need to work as one." She described such a systems-based approach as one where energy efficiency and clean energy technologies come together to advance energy security and environmental integrity over the long-term.

On clean energy, van der Hoeven noted that global renewable power generation is forecast to grow by 40% between 2011 and 2017, when it will equal one-and-a-half times current electricity production in the United States. Contributing to this increase will be the continued deployment of onshore wind in Asia, Latin America and Africa, and solar photovoltaics in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. van der Hoeven further emphasized the financial benefits from smart-grid investments, as described in the latest edition of IEA's flagship publication on energy technology, "Energy Technology Perspectives 2012."

On energy efficiency, she highlighted the potential for major gains in the transport and building sectors, pointing towards the 25 energy efficiency policy recommendations published by the IEA. In regard to the transport sector, she noted that 2012 marked the first year when over a million hybrid vehicles were sold. This progress, she said, will be aided by stronger fuel economy standards over the short term, and fuel cell and electric vehicles over the longer term.

She stressed, however, that the system-wide integration of clean and efficient energy technologies will require enhanced cooperation between governments and businesses "to recognize what works and what does not, to learn from our experiences, and to follow the right path to optimal technology deployment."

World Smart Energy Week 2013 took place from 27 February - 1 March. [van der Hoeven's Keynote Address] [World Smart Energy Week Website] [Publication: 25 Energy Efficiency Policy Recommendations- 2011 Update]