Irena boss wants global voice to fight Big Oil

The renewables industry must develop a strong global message, to defend itself from growing attacks by Big Oil, says the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

Director-general Adnan Amin tells Recharge: “At the moment with renewables, I think we are giving out different messages in different markets.

"In Europe the subsidy message is a key one, and everybody is frightened about what is happening due to austerity and why some nations are pulling the carpet from under the renewables business. But in other markets it’s a very different message.

“So I think we need to have a single global message, which is that the economic and technical feasibility of renewables today allows it to be deployed at scale and offer a solution to energy security and climate change issues, while meeting growing energy demand throughout the world.

“The question is how we shape that message and make it meaningful to policymakers, decision-makers and investors. That is something we need to get into the public mind, so we can develop public support for a massive upscaling of renewables.”

Amin says the reason the fossil-fuel industry is increasing its attacks on renewables is that it feels increasingly under threat.

“However, if such Middle East oil producers as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are investing so heavily in renewables, surely that sends a strong message to those in the fossil-fuels business who are fighting us.”

Amin says his organisation is set to play a major role in persuading governments to adopt renewables, with huge growth potential in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America, where billions of people lack access to electricity.

“I can say with confidence that Irena has come of age. Our membership has grown beyond all expectations, to include 160 countries. Near-universality is within reach, as demonstrated by... China announcing its intention to join in our mission.

“The growth of wind power over the past 15 years has matched that of telecoms and IT, with wind becoming a mainstream generation technology around the world. Wind is one of our big success stories, and proves that renewables are no longer a niche option.

“Wind power is already competitive with fossil-fuel generation in many countries without subsidies,” he says, highlighting initiatives by Irena to provide governments with objective information on the economic advantages of renewables.