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Remarks by Achim Steiner at the First General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

Abu Dhabi, 4 April 2011 - Dr Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber, the United Arab Emirates Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change and President of this first General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

Excellencies, Ministers, Vice Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here to address this evolution of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) from in some ways concept and inception to a fully functioning intergovernmental institution.

Renewable energy is no longer a dream or a fringe preoccupation of the few.

It is fast emerging as a mainstream technology able to answer multiple challenges and deliver multiple opportunities for countries and communities across the developed and the developing world.

Take solar photo-voltaics.

17.5GW was installed in 2010, up 130 per cent from 2009. PV installations have been forecast to increase further this year by perhaps 20.5 GW taking global capacity to about 50GW-the equivalent of about 15 nuclear reactors.

This is happening not just in developed economies such as Germany or Spain, but in developing economies from Bangladesh to Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Morroco.

Wind power is also growing rapidly.

According to the latest estimates of the Global Wind Energy Council, installed capacity world-wide could reach 450 GW by 2015.

Asia may have installed around 170 GW by that date; Europe 145 GW; North America, 94 GW; Latin America, almost 30 GW.

Only a few days ago, I had the pleasure of taking the UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon and the Chief Executives Board of the UN to the Great Rift Valley.

In Kenya, a country where less than 20 per cent of its citizens have access to electricity, a revolution in generation from 'hot rock' geothermal is taking place.

After two decades of modest electricity generation, geothermal has expanded to around 170 Megawatts (MW) today with the aim of 1,200 MW by 2018.

Full Release

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director UN Environment Programme



Further Resources

UN Secretary General's Visit to a Geothermal Plant in Rift Valley, Kenya

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

UNEP Launches the Green Economy Report


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