IRENA Pre-Assembly Live Coverage

10 January 2020| Articles

Over 1,500 delegates from more than 160 governments, the private sector and civil society will gather in Abu Dhabi to discuss key issues in the global energy transition and chart the way forward for the Agency against a backdrop of remarkable progress on deployment.

This live blog provides a rolling coverage of the Tenth Assembly Events as they happen.

*For live coverage Auto refresh has been enabled on this section for every sec.


Watch the video for the preview of today's sessions



Tonight, IRENA launched a new report Wind energy: A gender perspectiveBased on a survey across the industry, this study tracks women’s employment, gender policies and perceptions of gender bias throughout the wind energy value chain. IRENA conducted the survey jointly with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET)

The report shows that women represent only 21% of the wind energy workforce (based on survey responses), compared to 32% in renewables overall and 22% in traditional energy industries like oil and gas. The report shows that perceptions of gender roles and cultural-social norms form a major barrier to gender equality. 



The first IRENA Youth Forum has come to an end. Closing remarks from Mr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, Former Director-General at UNIDO, Member of the Parliament, Sierra Leone, commended delegates on their solutions and conclusions and feeling hopeful of the future that international cooperation can achieve the energy transformation, given the example of the youth today


Gurbuz Gonul, IRENA provided closing remarks at the Dialogue among Countries with High Shares of Renewables:

"You cannot isolate planning from innovation, there must be dialogue. We will create a working group of practitioners and invite Member countries to participate to identify best practices and encourage Member countries to adopt them via knowledge sharing."


Heading towards the closing of the first IRENA Youth Forum, the European Commission Director-General for Energy, Ms Ditte Juul-Jørgensen sends a bold message:

"Governments may not act fast, but we have witnessed the private sector and municipalities stepping in. Exchanging views and best practices is showing that the cooperation can lead to decoupling carbon emissions from growth".


At the Public - Private Dialogue, the panelists are addressing questions from the floor on how can public-private engagement contribute to unlocking investment and facilitate renewable energy projects in the region, and how to ensure just socio-economic benefits in the continent with huge demand for power. Different solutions for the continent are being discussed. 

Daniel Schroth, African Development Bank, spoke about clean cooking opportunities for some counties: 

"Cooking with a use of clean electricity is becoming an option for some countries, for example Ethiopia. That's something to definitely look into in the future". 



At the SEJ Platform Launch session, Harish Hande of Selco Foundation stresses the power of distributed renewable energy systems in reshaping the socioeconomic landscape in developing countries: “Sustainable energy is democratically a very powerful tool. A renewable energy future means that we are looking at a new world where the poor are the entrepreneurs and the job creators of the future.”


Michael Hackethal, Germany, at the High-shares of Renewable Energy Dialogue spoke about how the energy system is very heavily regulated.

“In order to avoid the risk that new technical possibilities never make it to the real world, we introduced the concept of Regulatory Sandboxes - a method that allows for large-scale experiments to be conducted under relaxed rules.”


European Commission Director-General for Energy, Ms Ditte Juul-Jørgensen has joined the coversation at the Youth Forum and giving her view to the participants about the outcomes of their discussions. As the youth share their thoughts, one representative underlined the importance of decentralised solutions in developing countries: "Decentralisation is especially essential for those communities afflicted by energy poverty. Off-grid solutions can help expand energy access and relieve isolated communities. Moreover, decentralisation can support governments as new centralised infrastructure or taxes would not be needed".

Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition Founding member, Irene Giner-Reichl, highlights that the sustainable energy transition is different to other technology-led advances in so far as it is a field that can bring about true societal change and not technological change. “The nature of the energy transformation opens up possibilities to welcome a more diverse pool of talent into sustainable energy.”



Dialogue on High-shares of Renewable Energy continues. Elena Ocenic of IRENA outlined that the power systems require more flexibility given the increasingly complex nature of those systems. A new report on "Innovative Solution for 100% renewable power in Swedenproposes 4 innovative tailor-made systemic solutions for Sweden, as well as recommendations on how to implement them.

New report launched by IRENA during the Sustainable Energy Jobs Platform event entitled ‘Measuring the socio-economics of transition: Focus on jobs’. The report offers detailed insights on how the energy transition will impact employment at both global and regional levels, noting that under an IRENA transformation scenario jobs in renewables could grow to 40 million by 2050. Report coming online soon. Check back on


Panel discussion on the new Sustainable Energy Jobs Platform launch now underway.

UNIDO’s Industrial Development Officer, Rana Ghoneim outlines the importance of renewable energy job creation to sustainable industrial development. Offering support for the new platform, she says: “One of the dimensions we would very much like to commit to is amplifying the messaging to broaden the global understanding of the importance of this issue and of appropriate policy making.”



At the Enhancing Dialogue among Countries with the on High-shares of Renewables in their Energy Systems, IRENA Innovation and Technology Centre (IITC) Director, Dolf Gielen, discussed the importance of a systemic approach to innovation for creating reliable energy system:

"There is a need for a systemic approach to innovation to create an effective and reliable system. We need innovation not only in tech but also in market design, system operation and  business models."


The participants of the Public - Private Dialogue session commemorated late Steve Sawyer, the leader of Greenpeace, and a usual participant of this session, with a minute of silence. 


Daniel Schroth, African Development Bank at the Public - Private Dialogue underlined how the Bank is able to support African countries in their transition to renewables, including supporting utilities and bringing down renewable energy prices even further. he added that public funding won’t be enough to scale-up renewable energy investment. We have to engage the private sector. Public-private engagement and facilities are key, he concluded. 


At the Public - Private Dialogue, Abshiro Halake, Kenya underlined that ease of doing business in Africa is what is going to help the continent in a journey to renewable energy. It is all about how easy it is for investors to come to Africa and do business here. 

"Private sector involvement  and vigorous legal frameworks helped us to open markets and attract investment & innovation," she said. 


IRENA Director-General, Francesco la Camera, opens the #IRENA10A Sustainable Energy and Jobs Launch session saying:

“Everybody is talking about a just transition but not many know how to make it happen. We all have to work on this subject to present a clear voice that supports an inclusive transition.”



 The Public - Private Dialogue session moved on to discuss scaling up private sector investment to accelerate Africa's energy transition.  Safiatou Alzouma, at the African Renewable Energy Initiative said: 

“I’m delighted to say that we have reached our first target of 10 GW 15 months before our schedule. Now moving to the next phase, we want to strengthen the implication of all the stakeholders, private, civil, associations, communities, because at the end of the day the deployment of renewable energy should benefit the beneficiaries that are on the ground.”

IRENA is a partner of the Sustainable Energy Jobs initiative which calls for more ambitious action from governments, donors and multilateral stakeholders to ensure the just energy transition for all. Today's session, not underway, will provide a platform for Members to exchange views on national experiences and best practices to strengthen the interlinkage between SDGs 7 and 8 and to maximise employment in its quantitative and qualitative aspects. It will also mark a launch of the new Sustainable Energy and Jobs Platform

The session on Enhancing Dialogue among Countries with High Shares of Renewables in their Energy Systems is underway. In an open discussion, the Members will discuss systemic innovation and provide feedback on the proposed implementation approach of the initiative.


How do youth play a role in the energy transformation? How can they collaborate with governments and international organisations like IRENA to implement the changes needed to achieve a sustainable renewable future?

Youth are exploring these questions and other challenges, reporting their experiences, opinions and ideas.


A strong closing comment from the panel member, Mercia Grimbeek, Mainstream Renewable Power, at the Public-Private Dialogue discussion on market design: 

"The time is now. It is a decade of renewables. But we need to work together." 


During the Private - Public Dialogue, the participants discussed the importance of de-risking and carbon pricing, and how not getting it right is an additional obstacle to accelerate electrification and renewable energy deployment.

Gauri Singh added “There are governments who are proactively consulting with stakeholders to de-risk investments and reach their ambition of decarbonizing the energy sector”. 


Mercia Grimbeek, Mainstream Renewable Power, at the Public-Private Dialogue said “We need to start looking at the complexity of the individual country that we are in and at how we can become corporate citizens as opposed to just a utility or energy provider.”


The discussion is continuing at the Public - Private Dialogue session. The panel members respond to comments from the floor. Ali Zerouali, Masen, underlined that "ambitious, reliable targets and stable political environment are crucial." He added that one of the ways to address the above is setting minimal price, for example through feed-in-tariffs. Another way is to secure demand - and that is where the policy makers play an important role. 

"It would be easier to trigger necessary investment in renewables if subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear were removed," added Rainer Hinrichs-Rahiwes of European Renewable Energies Federation. 


IRENA developed a Solar City Simulator tool to assist homes, businesses, and municipal authorities in evaluating the prospects for electricity generation using rooftop-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The tool showcases the example of the city of Kasese (Uganda) that can be adapted and easily scaled for new cities. 

Ms. Michaela Spaeth, Director for Energy & Climate Policy in the German Foreign Office in Germany highlights that report was of the utmost importance to Germany, but further work and a deepening of the analysis is necessary. Ms Spaeth says Germany is willing to support an update to the report noting that the unique strength of Commission behind the report was the unique mix of people it brought together. She notes that this balance of scientists and policy makers the new energy world and the old, should be aspired to in any future Commission.


At the Youth Forum Questions and Answers session with H.E. Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates and the UNPGA H.E. Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has ended. Youth have broken up into working groups to discuss Innovation with Renewables, Adaptation and Mitigation Efforts and the Role of Renewables, Socio-economic Benefits of Renewable Energy.

Mr. Daniel Scholten, Assistant Professor at the Delft University of Technology addresses the under explored issue of renewable gas in a future energy system asking to what extent will we produce and trade hydrogen in the energy system of the future? Pointing to the potential for further expansion of the Commission’s work as the global energy picture evolves.


"We need to arrive at a real economic breakthrough through real momentum and a global contribution to the development of renewable energy to reach economies of scale and make technological breakthroughs possible," said Mr. Ali Zerouali, Director Of Cooperation & International Development at Masen.



Mr. Thijs Van De Graaf, Associate Professor of International Politics at the Ghent University and lead writer of the Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation report, says:

”We will need more raw materials in the energy transition. Our energy future will be extremely metal intensive. But the earth’s crust is mineral and metal rich. Rare earth materials are technically not vary rare at all."



Ms. Kirsten Westphal, Senior Associate at German Institute for International and Security Affairs says that in thinking about the next steps following the analysis of the Geopolitics Commission, we need to consider the energy incumbents. "The energy transition fundamentally impacts the social and political situation around the world."

See the digital report on Geopolitics of Energy Transformation 


At the Private - Public Dialogue, Mr. Ben Backwell, Secretary General of Global Wind Energy Council, Co-Chair of Coalition for Action - Business and Investors Group stated it is the crucial time for the sector development and the urgency on the policy side has probably never been higher. 

"We should be seeing an explosive growth of renewable. Yet, this is not the case everywhere in the world. Investment & creating encouraging market designs will be key", he concluded. 

Hon. Francis Fannon of @StateDept speaking at the #IRENA10A session on the Geopolitics of the energy transformation applauds the Commission’s report for asking the tough questions. “We are living in a period of unprecedented energy transformation,“ he says. “Energy has for a long time been a prerequisite for security, however it is clear that we are living in a new era of energy abundance.“

"As we progress toward a more ecological cautious future, renewable energy takes centre stage and is a potential game changer in our journey for sustainability", says H.E. Eng. Awaidha Murshed Ali Al Marar, Department of Energy, Abu Dhabi.


Speaking now at the session on the geopolitics of energy transformation, former President of Iceland and former Chair of the Geopolitics Commission Olafur Grimmson highlights why the advance of renewables is unstoppable and is reshaping the world's geopolitical map: ''The need to tackle climate change, the importance of ensuring energy security, the fundamental issue of better health for citizens all over the world and the new reality that renewables make good business sense, are four key pillars driving the energy transformation“


Gauri Singh, Deputy Director-General of IRENA opened the Public-Private Dialogue: 

"Only by working together & further fostering collaboration between public, private & community stakeholders it is possible to accelerate renewable energy deployment & identify key action needed"


At the Youth Forum, the Director General Francesco La Camera highlights the recently launched Capacity Building Programme for Young Professionals from LDC and SIDSThe programme provides an opportunity for young professionals from LDCs and SIDS, with the agreement and support of their governments (or institutions), to serve at IRENA Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates or at its office in Bonn, Germany, for a period of one to two years. The programme aims to build capacity for addressing renewable energy issues in SIDS and LDCs and to provide experience in an intergovernmental organisation setting.

At his Key Note Speech at the Renewable Energy in Cities event, Karsten Sach, Director General, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) says “ there is a big opportunity in using cities as laboratories for change. He adds “at the international level, cities need to connect to just work with government to get the right framework to invest and understand trends.”



Over 60 countries & more than 300 cities & regions are committed to go 100% renewables. Policy makers & private sector gather at #IRENA10A to discuss way forward. Read more #ItsPossible


The first IRENA Youth Forum, the Agency’s first major event for and on youth, is getting under way. Over fifty youth from around the world are gathering to discuss the central role of renewables in the energy transformation. The forum will provide an opportunity for participants to engage and exchange views on renewable energy in the context of innovation, climate change and socio-economic benefits of the energy transition.


The newly appointed IRENA Deputy Director-General, Gauri Singh opened the Renewable Energy in Cities session saying the event will give fair and diverse view what is needed. It is crucial to discuss renewable energy in cities and possible solutions, including rooftop PV, heating and cooling and decarbonisation of transport.  "We have a large world population, more that half are moving to cities," she said. 

IRENA Youth Forum: The New Generation of Decision Makers gets underway. It is crucial to engage Youth in the renewables discourse and educate the new generation on the central role of renewables in the energy transformation. Follow the discussions on Twitter  


The Public - Private Dialogue on scaling-up investment in Africa is coming to a close. Gauri Singh, Deputy Director - General of IRENA concluded the session thanking the participants for an effective dialogue which opens new areas of engagement in Africa to be explored in Africa.  

Renewable Energy in Cities session is about to start. This session will discuss suitable policy instruments and technologies, as well as strategy development for urban energy transformation that allow cities to foster a renewable energy future, drawing on examples of municipal authorities acting as planners, regulators, financiers and operators of urban infrastructure.


MP Samuel Onuigbo fro Nigeria underlines the importance of women: 

Train a woman and train a nation.Women are key to addressing many of our issues today; they are the people that drive development and vote legislators into their positions, and so are essential in addressing energy issues.”



The Legislation Forum’s session on ‘Measures to improve women’s engagement in the renewables sector’ is now underway. The session’s moderator, Indian Member of Parliament Vandana Chavan, describes how access to energy dis-proportionally impacts women and so calls for women involvement in all stages of energy development – from legislation to implementation.


In her concluding remarks, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, said that during the SIDS session, participants have learned of enormous opportunities and potential of all renewable energy sources for SIDS and how renewables can ensure water security, create employment and help to reach climate goals.

"SIDS already sit very high in their NDCs. It is now time to take into account the synergies between energy, climate and SDGs."

However, she underlined that some critical barriers remain, including not enough private investment, knowledge and technology transfer issues. She also touched on the challenges in decarbonising some sectors, including transport. The Chair added confidently that the Climate Investment Platform, among others, will help to unlock the resources needed advance energy transition in SIDS. 


Interventions in the Legislators Forum emphasize the need for greater and faster action in the fight against climate change, with renewables and other decarbonization enabling legislation. Sierra Leone Member of Parliament, Rosaline Smith calls for IPU and IRENA to bring renewable and climate action discussions to national parliaments, to foster greater engagement from parliamentarians and legislators.


Bringing up the recently signed EU Green Deal, Director General for Energy, Ms Ditte Juul-Jørgensen said this deal is not only a part of the EU green agenda but also a growth agenda in a socio-economic sense. She concluded that the Green Deal is a part of a global partnership in the EU's commitment to the global climate action. And islands are in the position to lead the energy transformation.

SIDS Lighthouses partner Denmark says: “In some ways we are also a small island nation. The energy transformation that we are undertaking in Denmark means bringing renewable energy to all 78 inhabited islands in the country. Our national energy plan targets 100% renewable energy by 2028 and our government has set a target of greenhouse gas emission reduction of 70% by 2030. Our plans are Paris aligned."


An intervention by Hon. Gregory Bowen, Minister for Infrastructure Development, Energy, Public Utilities, Transport and Implementation in Grenada during the SIDS session touches on the need for the  Caribbean community to face the economic challenge of the energy transformation. "The economic burden on the various small island states and with respect to the price of energy is one of our primary challenges. For us to move forward the price of energy must be lower than what currently exists."



IRENA SIDS Lighthouses Initiative support SIDS in the transformation from a predominantly fossil-based to a renewables-based and resilient energy system. The latest video shows how renewable energy is contributing to water security in small islands:


Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States stands ready to support SIDS in their energy transition saying: "That is why we signed an agreement with @IRENA to work closer together to support the implementation of the #Samoapathway".

She signs off with: "We must stop talking and just do it."

Higher Representative for UN-OHRLLS Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, says that the global community is familiar with the damage caused by SIDS from their reliance on fossil fuels, which among other things has been responsible for some of the world’s highest electricity prices. Renewable energy delivers socioeconomic well-being.


A the SIDS session, Hon. Ivan Leslie Collendavelloo, the Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius  says she believes that addressing climate change requires community participation at a grassroots level. "Thanks to the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility we are now delivering free electricity to a number citizens in our country today."

“As a result of a dedicated renewable energy office and the introduction of competitive bidding, more than USD120m of investment has brought 80MW of renewables online in the last 5 years", she continues. 


Ms. Gabriela Cuevas-Barron, Senator, Senate of the Republic, Mexico, and President, Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) underlines the Legislator"

"You are here for one reason, because you care, and that is the most important reason to be here. Because you want to change the planet."



Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, United Arab Emirates, said to the Legislators gathered at the IRENA event:

"We must expand the renewable energy portofolio at double the pace to the Sustainable Development Goals. Through developing flexible, regulatory frameworks, you, the legislators, can create a future that we will all be happy to live in."

H.E. Mr Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the United Nations General Assembly speaking at the High-Level Meeting on Small Island Developing States says “The international community must adopt all efforts to ensure SIDS are equipped to thrive in the future. We are all in this together and we are duty bound to not only ensure nobody is left behind, but also that we reach the furthest behind, first.



At the SIDS session, in the opening remarks, IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera, sets the stage by saying: “SIDS may be small in size but have been giants in driving change globally.”

Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa and Chair of #IRENA10A session on SIDS, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, says the mid-term review of Samoa Pathway emphasizes the importance of providing SIDS with access to sustainable, reliable energy calling for enhanced cooperation in this regard.


Now underway at the IRENA Assembly a High-Level Meeting on Accelerating the Energy Transformation in Small Island Developing States through Renewable Energy

The meeting builds on priority areas identified for the next phase of IRENA’s Lighthouses Initiative which seeks to achieve a total renewable energy installed capacity on SIDS of 5 GW by 2023. 

This high-level meeting features ministers from a number of small islands providing an opportunity to discuss opportunities, challenges and practical solutions as well as to identify concrete actions to accelerate energy transformation in SIDS.


“We have just over ten years left to fulfil the commitment set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We need a decade of action in which we also hold the line on rising global temperatures,” IRENA Director-General, Francesco La Camera opens the 10th Assembly’s Legislators Forum.

He explains that parliamentarians, are instrumental in formulating and approving laws that govern the deployment of the renewable energy sector and overseeing their implementation. That they are key to ensuring adequate mitigation and adaptation actions and promoting socio-economic benefits and gender empowerment, and have a crucial role in gathering the necessary support from communities to move these initiatives forward.


In the meantime, at the IRENA HQ, a session on International Dialogue on Global Best Practices for Strategic Long-term Energy planning” provides an opportunity for participants to share global experience on how to plan a speedy, sustainable and just energy transition.

Learn more about IRENA work on the topic


The 5th iteration of the annual IRENA Legislators Forum has just started. The Forum will focus on the overall theme of parliamentary actions to accelerate the energy transformation by engaging communities and promoting a just and fair transition through the adoption of national policies that support gender empowerment and contribute to national mitigation and adaptation efforts through the deployment of renewable energy.


This morning, participants of the High-Level Meeting on Accelerating the Energy Transformation in Small Island Developing States will share their vision and experiences in the adoption of renewables, identifying new actions and commitments in light of the discussions at the UN Climate Action Summit.

Live updates coming soon

The latest white paper from IRENA Coalition for Action shows that energy utilities around the world are switching to 100% renewables. The paper builds on a number of case studies including first-hand interviews with utilities, and outlines the achievements and implementation strategies of energy utilities around the world. The paper also includes an updated mapping of 100% renewable energy targets on national and subnational levels. Read the paper