The United Nations has taken a new initiative to promote renewable energy, considering its potential to alleviate poverty across the world, according to a top UN official.
The UN declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All and Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, has also taken an initiative in the same direction, said Sha Zukang, under-secretary general of the UN. He was addressing the first day of the second Assembly of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
About 137 countries, the European Union and 57 organisations are attending the two-day assembly which is to end today. Zukang was referring to the fact that access to energy can alleviate poverty as it improves living standards of impoverished masses. Zukang said the world was facing an interlinked crisis involving economic, social and environmental issues. He emphasised the role of IRENA to promote renewable energy across the world and to address several problems. Zukang said one solution should solve multiple problems.
Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber of the UAE, the president of the first assembly, inaugurated the second assembly yesterday. Salvadore Namburete of Mozambique has been elected president of this second session of the assembly.
There are encouraging signs of the increasing utilisation of renewable energy everywhere, said Adnan Z Ameen, director general of IRENA in his speech. In 2010 renewable energy supplied about 16 percent of global energy consumption, and delivered close to 20 percent of global electricity production, he said.
Including all hydro power, Ameen said, renewable energy accounted for about 50 percent of total added power generating capacity in 2010. Among the dramatic events that shaped the world in 2011, he said, was the devastating impact of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March, leading to the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
This event, Ameen said, transformed the public’s perception in favour of renewable energy worldwide. During his recent visit to Japan, he learned that new Japanese legislation obliges all utilities to purchase the full amount of electricity produced by all types of renewable power generation at all scales. He said it would move the nation forward to a sustainable energy future. The contribution of renewable energy sources to Germany’s total final energy consumption has tripled in the past ten years.
Germany’s long support for solar PV [photovoltaic] technology has increased. The country’s record energy levels, thanks to new solar installations in 2011, is evidence of this. PV energy production is set to reach the same level as other energy sources by 2015. This is due, in part, to Germany’s inspiring investment strategy, energy policies, and its contribution to global public good.
UAE: A major contributor
The UAE is a major financial contributor to IRENA. Some IRENA member countries have provided voluntary contributions to the organisations beyond the commitment to the core budget, including the host country, the UAE, which contributed more than $7 million (Dh25.7 million), Adnan Z Ameen, said.
The German government provided $3.1 million (Dh11.01 million), he added. “About 95 percent of our core budget for 2011 has been received.” It is estimated that $20.3 million was spent in 2011; $10.8 million was from the core budget and $9.5 million from additional voluntary contributions, which amounts to the expenditure rate of 81.4 percent of the approved budget.
Of this amount, 75 percent was for programmes and strategic management activities. The remaining amount was allocated to conference servicing and administrative support.