Seven Ways IRENA Advances Renewable Energy Worldwide

by Zachary Shahan

We’ve posted a number of stories about the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) activities over the past couple of years. Numerous times, in the comments, people have raised questions about how much IRENA is actually doing and whether or not it is useful. I love IRENA, and following a couple of announcements at the World Future Energy Summit, I had the idea to go ahead and run down a list of several things IRENA is doing that really are making a difference or will make a difference.

Before jumping into that list, however, I’ll start with a little background and context. IRENA is very, very young. Its founding conference was January 2009 (in Bonn, Germany), but it wasn’t officially established until April 2011 (in Abu Dhabi, the UAE).

IRENA already has 124 members (123 nations and the European Union). It also has another 43 signatories. Creating programs and projects with that many participating nations is of course going to result in some sluggishness, but that breadth of membership also allows for tremendous, powerful action.

Not even three years after its official establishment, IRENA has a lot to show for its name, and what it has created are the building blocks of very real and influential change. Here are very quick summaries of 7 IRENA highlights:

How Renewable Energy can offset fossil fuels
How Renewable Energy can offset fossil fuels

1. REmap 2030. I just wrote about this the other day, so I hope you all read that REmap 2030 article. The quick summary of the REmap 2030 report is that it provides a realistic but fairly ambitious scenario for doubling renewable energy share in the global energy mix by 2030. Furthermore, it will include 26 country-specific reports outlining how particular countries can achieve their share of this significant growth. These roadmaps are important because they will inspire and support the creation of actual, world-changing energy policies.

See Video #1 here:

2. IRENA/Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) Project Facility. This is again something that was unveiled in just the past week which I covered. In total, this is a 7-year, $350 million concessional loan program that enables innovative renewable energy projects in developing countries that can make a significant difference themselves while also providing an example for others to follow. At the press conference I attended in Abu Dhabi, it was noted that the first round of financing will deliver ~$41 million for 6 renewable energy projects on 6 continents, while private financing will raise the total investment to over $80 million.

The next round of funding is now open for applications.

Cost of diesel oil-fired electricity production
Cost of diesel oil-fired electricity production

3. IRENA Costing Alliance Website. Providing genuine utility to businesses, governments, investors, and nonprofits around the world, IRENA recently launched a websites focused solely on renewable energy & electric vehicle costs that it aims to make into your “one-stop shop” for any renewable energy cost data. The website needs to be include much more information to genuinely become that, but even at launch it provided a great number of renewable energy cost facts, charts, and graphs that I found very interesting and useful. I’m sure I’m not the only one. This — along with a couple of other sites — is already at the top of my list for renewable energy cost facts and graphics.

4. Renewables Readiness Assessments. We covered these briefly about one year ago. Seemingly something like a precursor to REmap 2030, Renewables Readiness Assessments “offer a country-led approach to identify priority actions to boost renewable energy deployment, with buy-in from all key stakeholders.” If such assessments aren’t useful, I’m not sure what is!

5. Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network. Policy is a critical matter in all energy industries — renewables, nuclear, and fossil fuels. To deny that is to deny reality. With renewable energy still a rather young industry, there is much to be learned and shared regarding effective renewable energy policies. Policy can be a very complicated matter, and this IRENA program, which connects renewable energy experts and businesspeople with policymakers around the world, offers incalculable benefits for the global renewable energy revolution.

6. IRENA’s Knowledge, Policy and Finance Center is an overarching IRENA arm. KPFC “has established a global repository of renewable energy knowledge and serves as a center of excellence for renewable energy and finance issues,” IRENA writes. “Through this function, IRENA will provide a knowledge gateway for  statistics on costs, employment, resource potential and status of deployment, along with research and information on policies, investment frameworks and socio-economic and environmental impact for renewable energy technologies.”

See video #2 here:

7. IRENA’s Global Renewable Energy Atlas is probably one of the agency’s oldest projects. I remember writing about it back in May 2012. It is the largest effort worldwide to assess the energy potential of different renewable resources all around the world is a never-ending project. If you haven’t checked it out, you should go have a look. The atlas includes a bounty of renewable energy resource maps, which have been provided by some of the world’s leading research institutes. “The Global Atlas aims to become the first reference point for renewable resource data and a catalyst for planning, policy development and investment in emerging and new renewable energy markets.” This is a tremendous resource for policymakers as well as renewable energy companies looking to serve emerging markets.

I think I’ve shown pretty clearly why I love IRENA so much, and have given a sense of how useful the agency has become in just a few years of existence. The global agency is working on other projects not listed above, including some projects not yet officially announced. I’m sure it won’t be too long before we have another big IRENA story to cover.

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This article, 7 Things IRENA Is Doing To Advance Renewable Energy, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author


Zachary ShahanZachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.