This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 28, 2009

Seventy-Five Nations Join New International Renewable Energy Agency

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was founded on January 26 in Bonn, Germany, and 75 nations have already signed a compact to join the new agency. IRENA is an intergovernmental organization for renewable energy, and it aims to become a driving force in the promotion of a rapid transition towards the widespread global use of renewable energy. While there is already a World Council on Renewable Energy (WCRE) to promote renewable energy policies, IRENA is a political institution that is intended to act as a counterbalance to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the International Energy Agency, which represents only 28 industrialized, democratic nations (that is, most members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). The 75 founding nations of IRENA include Germany, Spain, France, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, all of which are IEA members, as well as Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Kenya, Chile, and Colombia, among others. IRENA was proposed in 1990 by Herman Scheer, president of the European Association for Renewable Energies and chair of the WCRE. See the WCRE press release and the IRENA Web site.

According to that Web site, IRENA will facilitate access to reliable data on the potential of renewable energy, as well as information about best practices, effective financial mechanisms, and the state of the art in renewable energy technologies. The agency will also develop and promote renewable energy policies on the local, regional, and national level. It will also consult and cooperate with organizations and networks already engaged in renewable energy to complement and pool their resources, while drawing on input from the energy industry, academia, institutions, and civilians. The United States has not yet joined the agency, but an invitation to join has been sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was sworn into office on January 21. According to the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE), the United States was represented at the founding meeting by an observer from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. See the ACORE press release.