The press conference was held on January 17th, 2010 at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi during the WFES Convention. In prepared remarks, Ms. Pelosse said 500 delegates from 120 member states attended IRENA’s third session held earlier that day to decide on the agency’s work program and 2010 budget.

IRENA aims to become the leading international center of excellence for renewable energy, a platform for exchange and development of renewable energy knowledge, and will become the global voice for renewable energy. IRENA will facilitate access to all relevant renewable energy information and will share experiences on best practices and lessons learned regarding policy frameworks, capacity building projects, available finance mechanisms and renewable energy related energy efficiency measures.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Chair of the 3rd IRENA Preparatory Commission Session with Hélène Pelosse, Director-General of IRENA at a joint press conference.
(Photo by World-Gen)

It was disclosed at the press conference that IRENA’s funding by member states is made voluntarily.
The UAE will contribute $136 million over the first six years and will cover all operational costs of IRENA’s headquarters in Masdar City.

Ms. Pelosse announced four new signatories bringing the total to one hundred and forty three, almost three-quarters of the United Nations membership.
The membership is comprised of 48 from Africa, 39 from Europe plus the EU, 33 from Asia, 14 from the Americas, and 9 from Australia. Saudi Arabia’s recent decision to join IRENA was also made known and a signing date will be set.

In answer to a question on the UAE’s decision to pursue nuclear energy, Dr. Al Jaber said the UAE is looking for a “balanced energy mix.”

Pelosse’s priorities for 2010 include recruitment of staff positions of fifty percent women to reach gender parity and to continue outreach to the International Energy Agency, UN and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

IRENA was established in Bonn, Germany in January, 2009 at the first IRENA session with 70 members. The second session was held in June of ’09 at Sharm Al Sheikh where IRENA members designated Abu Dhabi to be its new headquarters site and appointed Hélène Pelosse as its interim Director General.

IRENA and UNOPS signed an agreement for UNOPS to provide administrative, personnel, financial management and legal functions to IRENA. Ms. Pelosse said at the signing in Copenhagen, “UNOPS expertise in service provision will boost IRENA’s take-off.”

IRENA’s Third Session coincided with the Third World Foreign Energy Summit where IRENA was one of the 600 plus exhibitors. Solar power was featured prominently in this year’s WFES with over 160 of the world’s largest solar power companies exhibiting.

Twelve solar companies signed a memorandum of understanding in Munich in July 2009 to form the “Desertec Industrial Initiative Planning Company.” DII will build large scale power plants in the desert regions of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA REGION). The total investment is estimated at 400 billion euros by 2050. Fifteen percent would supply Europe with high-voltage direct current transmission technology. DII will also contribute towards improving the infrastructure and standard of living in the MENA region.

Hélène Pelosse is Interim Director- General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). She was the advisor in Angela Merkel’s office during the German presidency of the EU where she helped adopt EU political objectives on energy efficiency, renewable energy and GHG emissions. Since 2007, she has served as Deputy Head of Staff in the private office of the French Minister for Ecology, Energy, and Sustainable Development. On June 29, 2009 Ms. Pelosse was elected Interim Director-General of IRENA by its member states.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber was featured in the Class of 2010, World-Gen, V.22, #1, Jan/Feb 2010. Also on www.worldgen. com.