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Multilateral Solar and Wind Energy Working Group Meets In Abu Dhabi

Expansion of the Global Atlas, capacity building activities, and the plans for the econValue project report discussed

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Clean Energy Ministerial’s wind and solar initiative, the Multilateral Working Group on Solar and Wind Energy Technologies (MWGSW), recently met at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) headquarters in Abu Dhabi. More than 30 representatives from member countries, international organizations, and scientific institutes reviewed progress made by each of the working group’s projects and planned future work.  

The Global Atlas

The working group’s first project, the Global Atlas for Renewable Energy, is an extensive online database that enables users to map wind and solar energy potential for different regions of the world. Launched a year ago, the working group is now looking for ways to improve and expand the Atlas. Based on the results of an end user survey conducted in September 2013, the group plans to enhance the usability of the Global Atlas interface and website. Further expansion of the Global Atlas’ partner network, available data sets, and features and functions for non-expert users are also under way. IRENA, the operating agent for the atlas, presented its plans to add other renewable energy technologies to the atlas. MINES ParisTech presented the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demonstration project, which illustrates the capability of the Global Atlas to support planning processes for future solar and wind energy deployment. It provides a set of maps of opportunity areas to be discussed with rural and energy agencies in the ECOWAS region. In addition, the concept of developing an “Energy Exemplar,” linking renewable energies with climate services of the Global Framework for Climate Services, was presented by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and IRENA.

Capacity Building

The group also discussed the importance of making the information available through the Global Atlas more accessible and attractive for policy makers. In particular, the group noted a need for capacity-building activities. The approach for future capacity-building activities presented by IRENA was welcomed by participants. Belgium, a Global Atlas member country, announced a voluntary contribution from the Flemish Ministry of Energy for IRENA to develop a model capacity-building session in the African Clean Energy Corridor. Germany also announced a voluntary contribution to IRENA to continue the work on capacity-building, outreach, and communication of the Global Atlas. 

IRENA’s Renewable Energy Learning Partnership (IRELP) was also noted as a comprehensive platform that facilitates knowledge sharing and provides a career center for education and training on renewable energy technologies. 

Economic Value Creation Along the Solar and Wind Value Chains (econValue)

EconValue is the working group’s most recent project. It introduces different methodological approaches for assessing economic value creation from renewable energy technologies and analyses which policies may be best suited to enable and drive this economic value creation. A draft econValue project report was circulated at the meeting, with a focus on refining the key recommendations. The report’s key messages will be presented to delegates attending the CEM5 preparatory meeting in Mexico in February. At the fifth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM5) in Korea in May, the final report will be officially launched and will provide the basis for a Ministerial roundtable discussion. Related to the group’s EconValue project, IRENA presented its ireValue initiative, which encompasses work done to assess the socioeconomic impacts of renewable energy. France announced the plan to implement a tool for the analysis of socio-economic value creation from renewable energies.

The authors of the different EconValue report chapters presented their results and recommendations for discussion, including the various methods used to conduct the impact assessments along with their level of complexity and associated resource requirements, and different categories of policies to maximize value creation. Participants agreed that there is no one-size-fits-all policy solution for value creation, and several factors are important to define the best fit multi-sector policy mix for any country. It was pointed out that value can be created at each stage of the renewable energy technology (RET) life cycle, by tapping into a country’s particular potentials according to its RET development status.

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