Speakers (l-r): Hermann Scheer and Gerry Waldron
Introduction to the International Renewable Energy Agency Featuring Hermann Scheer
Friday, February 20, 2009
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 Noon
2325 Rayburn House Office Building
On February 20, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing about the potential role and impact of the newly-formed International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and global renewable energy policy. IRENA is an international agency comprising 76 nations (the United States has not yet joined) that seeks to promote widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy. Hermann Scheer, member of the German Bundestag, discussed the formation of this new agency and its role in global energy policy. A Congressional respondent offered perspectives on the agency and prospects for potential membership.
Speakers for this event included:
- Hermann Scheer, PhD, Member of the German Bundestag, President of EUROSOLAR; General Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE); President of the International Parliamentary Forum on Renewable Energies
- Gerry Waldron, Staff Director, House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming
Audio Recording of the Briefing and Q&A (mp3)
- IRENA will play an important role in helping developing and industrialized countries make the switch from conventional sources of energy to renewable sources in what Herman Sheer described as a "race against time" that must be solved in the next 30 years.
- We can expect the price of conventional energy to rise due to depletion of resources and rising demand. The costs of renewable energy, however, can only decrease with mass production and new technologies.
- The world should respond to the threat of climate change and unstable governments that control the largest oil reserves with a new agency that focuses on renewable energy, i.e. IRENA. While some think the International Energy Agency (IEA) can fill this role, it currently spends only 2 percent of its budget on renewable energy activities and does not include important developing nations such as China and India.
- Gerry Waldron urged the United States to become a charter member and noted a resolution introduced by Rep. Edward Markey last fall (H. Res 177) backing U.S. membership. Rep. Markey has also introduced a Renewable Electricity Standard bill (H.R. 890) that would mandate 25 percent of U.S. electricity be generated from renewable sources by 2025.
- If the German renewable energy sector continues its current growth rate, Germany could be powered entirely by renewable energy in 27 years.
- There is enough wind in the Midwest Corridor (from the Dakotas to Texas) to power the entire United States, including an electrified transportation sector. However, this would require improvements in transmission to move the electricity to the demand centers on the coasts.
- Conventional energy producers will be losers in the transition to renewable energy, but policymakers should transform the macroeconomic benefits into microeconomic incentives for producers and consumers.
As the world faces the mounting issues of climate change, rising energy demand and depletion of natural resources, IRENA is intended to develop comprehensive solutions and foster all types of renewable energy. The agency will support both developed and developing countries by providing policy advice, promoting technology transfer, and facilitating access to data on the potential of renewable energy, best practices, effective financial mechanisms, and technological expertise. At IRENA’s founding conference in January 2009, Dr. Scheer said, “With always updated technological information about the state of the art of renewable energy technologies and its diversities of different applications, served by IRENA, we can open the minds and encourage governments and investors for renewable energy strategies. We have learned many lessons for best policy and industry practice, and the role of IRENA will be that all can share the best practice experiences and enrich this with their own new ideas. IRENA will be the common learning and inspiring centre of renewable energy excellence.”
For more information, please contact EESI at climate [at] eesi.org or (202) 662-1892.
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