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Harnessing the Power of Wind and Sun

Friday, April 5, 2013

By Sonja Röder, Clean Energy Ministerial, Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group (Germany)

 Photo credit: Martin Dawes,

The 2009 Technology Action Plans (TAPs) are the genesis of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) and are still at the core of its initiatives, including the Multilateral Working Group on Solar and Wind. Recalling the declaration from the leaders of the Major Economies Forum, who created the TAPs, it still holds true that “climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. As leaders of the world’s major economies, both developed and developing, we intend to respond vigorously to this challenge, being convinced that…moving to a low-carbon economy is an opportunity to promote continued economic growth and sustainable development, that the need for and deployment of transformational clean energy technologies at lowest possible cost are urgent. Drawing on global best practice policies, we undertake to remove barriers, establish incentives, enhance capacity-building, and implement appropriate measures to aggressively accelerate deployment and transfer of key existing and new low-carbon technologies, in accordance with national circumstances.”

Solar and wind energy technologies, as two of the mentioned low-carbon technologies, are key in an overall clean energy strategy. The energy from solar and wind is inexhaustible, sustainable, secure, and free. It is abundantly available worldwide, though some regions have more resources than others, and according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation, both solar and wind have the theoretical potential to cover global energy demand. At the end of 2012, the global total installed capacity of wind stood at roughly 282 gigawatts (GW), and installed capacity of solar photovoltaics topped 100 GW. Investments in solar and wind reached a new record in 2011 of $302 billion before pulling back slightly in 2012 to $268 billion, which was still the second-highest investment year.

Yet, realizing a substantial increase in installed capacity of solar and wind energy remains technically and politically challenging. It requires political momentum and support as well as international cooperation. The CEM Multilateral Working Group on Solar and Wind supplies both of these necessary elements. It aims to bring policy makers together to explore the deployment of solar and wind energy supply. It also creates networks of international experts to support favourable political decision making from the technical point of view.

One focus of the Working Group has been capacity building and identifying what factors are needed for a successful long-term strategy. The work on capacity building resulted in two concrete outputs: the International Renewable Energy Agency Renewable Energy Learning Partnership (IRELP) and Capacity Development Needs Diagnostics for Renewable Energy (CaDRE). IRELP is an online education and training platform seeking to raise awareness of available education and training opportunities in the renewable energy sector, thereby enhancing their accessibility. CaDRE comprises a handbook and toolbox designed as a country-driven, comprehensive approach to analysing the capacity already in place, predicting future capacity needs, identifying capacity gaps, and providing recommendations for creating capacity development strategies. It is based on the guiding principle that no successful capacity development strategy can be built without intensive stakeholder engagement.

A second focus from the very beginning has been the Global Atlas for Solar and Wind, a comprehensive information platform on the potential of solar and wind energies. It provides resource maps from leading technical institutes worldwide and tools for evaluating the technical potential of solar and wind energies. It also functions as a catalyst for informed policy development and energy planning.

Inspired by the CEM’s overarching goal to sustain economic growth while enhancing clean energy supply, the Working Group has lately turned to analyzing the various economic opportunities offered by solar and wind sector development, as well as to examining the potential of various policy instruments to realize value creation. The initiative seeks to provide policy makers with macroeconomic arguments for solar and wind deployment and to formulate concrete policy recommendations and guidelines for economic value creation from solar and wind deployment.

The initiative will work to foster an international exchange of strategies to enhance solar and wind deployment and highlight best practices. A coordinated effort of the Working Group’s members, which include some frontrunners in wind and solar deployment, can meaningfully contribute to the CEM’s goals.

Tags: windsolar

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