Although slowing somewhat in the past year, the renewable energy expanded despite the global credit crunch especially in the sector of solar, wind and geothermal investment. According to the World Wind Energy Association around 12,000 megawatts of wind power generation capacity were installed in 2008 along with 9,740 megawatts of Photovoltaic (PV) solar energy power generation potential. The geothermal sector saw a further 6,000 megawatts of capacity installed and it is believed that 2009 will see added expansion.
To oversee this expansion, The Renewable Energy Industry Agency (IRENA) has been established as a multi-national agency dedicated to the growth the renewable sector. It is hoped that the agency will help energy companies invest in renewable plant and increase investment in green technology. Similarly, they will be hoping to develop an awareness of renewable energy solutions in developing nations. Sigmar Gabriel, the German Environment Minister stated that,
“IRENA will help to remove the many obstacles which up to now have delayed the rapid expansion of renewables. The market is still distorted by subsidies for conventional energies, technological know-how is inadequate, information is not always correct.”
Last Monday in Bonn saw the inaugural IRENA conference, attended by over 120 delegates of a number of nations, such as Germany, Spain, Denmark, India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kenya (all the founder members).
Although the agency is conspicuously missing the membership of such countries as Australia, China, the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom, its original founder members are more than happy with the uptake in participation thus far and are confident that the other major industrial nations will be brought on board eventually. Indeed, a British representative of the Department for Energy and Climate change who was present at the conference was quoted in the Guardian as saying,
“We are certainly supportive and are interested in joining, but we need to make sure that what we’re joining has the right focus. There needs to be more focus on the deployment of renewables rather than just talking policy and issuing papers. And there needs to be a wider membership.”