Renewed Hope for Renewable Energy
VIENNA – A decade ago, renewable energy was viewed as an unwelcome offspring of fossil fuels, but the recent establishment of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicates that governments worldwide are taking “renewables” seriously. With mounting concerns about climate change and volatility in oil and other fossil-fuel prices, renewables are finally becoming a viable proposition.
IRENA will be headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, in Masdar City, the world’s first carbon-neutral city, which will be constructed in the desert by 2011. The agency will also maintain two vital arms in Europe: an innovation and technology center in Bonn; and an office in Vienna for strategic alliances with other agencies, particularly the United Nations.
Close to $155 billion was invested in 2008 in renewable energy companies and projects worldwide, not including large-scale hydroelectric projects, according to a recent UN Environment Program report. On a global scale, the renewable energy sector created 2.3 million jobs in the past few years. In Germany alone, the sector’s growth has generated 250,000 new green jobs in less than ten years.