IRENA Assembly Focuses on Accelerating Renewable Energy Transition

IRENA17 January 2016: The sixth session of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly focused on accelerating the transition to renewable energy, in particular, by mobilizing investment. More than 1,000 officials and other stakeholders from over 150 countries convened in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from 16-17 January 2016 to provide strategic and programmatic direction to the agency. In addition, IRENA launched a report on the economic benefits of renewable energy and announced funding for four renewable energy projects in Antigua and Barbuda, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde and Senegal.

The Assembly agenda included items on, inter alia: the annual report on the implementation of the work programme and budget for 2014-2015; the work programme and budget for 2016-2017; a review of the medium-term strategy; and a strategic discussion on innovation and renewable energy.

As the first intergovernmental meeting after the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, in December 2015, the Assembly included two ministerial roundtables on the theme of 'After COP 21': concerted action towards renewable energy deployment; and mobilizing investment to accelerate the energy transition.

The Assembly closed with the 2016 Financial Times-IRENA Question Time Debate, which brought together government and private sector representatives to share experiences in prioritizing and accelerating renewable energy deployment for climate change mitigation.

During the Assembly, IRENA launched a report, titled ‘Renewable Energy Benefits: Measuring the Economics,' which provides a global estimate of the macroeconomic impacts of renewable energy deployment. The report finds that scaling up renewable energy to 36% of the global energy mix by 2030 would result in a global gross domestic product (GDP) increase of up to 1.1% or US$1.3 trillion. According to IRENA, this would also increase global welfare by up to 3.7% and create 15 million new jobs in the renewable energy sector.

New renewable energy projects in Antigua and Barbuda, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde and Senegal were selected to receive a total of US$46 million in loans under the IRENA/Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) Project Facility. With a total capacity of 12 MW, the four solar and wind energy will aim to “power rural communities, decrease emissions, improve health and create jobs.”

Preceding the IRENA Assembly, on 15 January, the Legislators Forum 2016, also held in Abu Dhabi, marked the first gathering of legislators organized by IRENA with the aim of fostering dialogue on renewable energy policy. During the day, thirty legislators, representing all regions of the world, exchanged best practices and lessons in creating effective policies in the field. The outcomes of the discussions provided input to the Assembly discussions.

The fourth funding cycle for the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility is open for proposals until 15 February 2016. [IRENA Press Release on Opening Day] [IRENA Press Release on IRENA/ADFD Facility] [IRENA Press Release on Question Time Debate] [IRENA Sixth Assembly Documents] [IRENA Press Release on Legislators Forum] [UNFCCC Press Release] [Renewable Energy Benefits: Measuring the Economics] [IRENA/ADFD Website]