IRENA highlights policy and investment as key to African Renewables Growth

21 February 2012| Press Release

In a closing address to the Africa roll-out of the UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for All (IYSEA) Mr. Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) told journalists and assembled delegates that smart government policies could accelerate the quest for more sustainable sources of energy in Africa and improve millions of lives across the continent.

"Innovative investment mechanisms and sharply falling manufacturing and installation costs of renewable energy technologies, including wind, advanced biomass, and solar power, are essential to further unlocking the continent’s vast potential,” said Mr. Amin, who serves as a member to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s High Level group on IYSEA.

Mr. Amin, who was speaking at an IYSEA press conference organised by UNEP also pointed out that manycountries in Africa are already successfully testing the technologies and policies needed to bring energy to rural areas and growing cities. According to a recent IRENA working paper on Prospects for the African Power Sector,  Africa is endowed with very large, high-quality renewable energy resources that can provide electricity for all at an affordable cost as renewable technologies costs continue to decline. Large hydropower is the least-cost renewable energy solution today. This is followed by onshore wind, biomass and geothermal. Solar is still more expensive, but has a huge potential and costs are coming down rapidly. Africa faces a unique opportunity as nearly two-thirds of the additional capacity needed in 2030 has yet to be built. The continent can benefit from the recent global progress and cost reductions in renewable power generation technologies,  and move directly to a renewable-based system.

“Meeting the needs of developing countries all over the world will require dramatic growth in the global energy sector,” added Mr. Amin. “Renewable energy will play an essential role in improving the access of millions to energy, while ensuring energy security and mitigating the existential risk of climate change by reducing emissions.”

Mr Amin’s remarks were echoed by UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner .  “Accelerating and scaling-up sustainable energy for all will be key to realizing a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient ‘inclusive’ Green Economy”, said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

UN International Year of Sustainable Energy for All

Throughout 2012, the United Nations Secretary-General, in partnership with the inter-agency group UN Energy, will be coordinating activities to increase awareness of the importance of addressing energy issues, including modern energy services for all, access to affordable energy, energy efficiency and the sustainability of energy sources at local, national, regional and international levels.

As part of these efforts, the UN Secretary-General, UN Energy and the United Nations Foundation, are leading a new global initiative – Sustainable Energy for All. The initiative will engage governments, the private sector, and civil society partners worldwide, to achieve three major objectives by 2030:

  • Ensuring universal access to modern energy services
  • Doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency
  • Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix

The UN Secretary-General has convened high-level representatives from the private sector, government, UN/intergovernmental organizations and civil society to develop a global strategy and concrete agenda for action to reach the three objectives.

The roadmap, which will build on the work of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change, will be offered for consideration at the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012. The high-level group is co-chaired by Charles Holliday, Chairman of Bank of America, and Kandeh Yumkella, Chair of UN Energy and Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Note to editors:

IRENA — the International Renewable Energy Agency, founded in 2009, held its first Assembly in Abu Dhabi in April 2011, where the Agency is headquartered. With the participation of 155 States, 86 ratifying Members, and the European Union, IRENA has become a nexus of international efforts to accelerate the worldwide deployment of renewable energy technologies.

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