IRENA joins campaign to back greater public-private collaboration on clean energy

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At the seventh Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) meeting in San Francisco, held Thursday, Abu Dhabi-headquartered IRENA (the International Renewable Energy Agency) signed up to a public/private sector initiative created to boost corporate investment in, and sourcing of, renewables.

The Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Campaign sees IRENA join the likes of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Wells Fargo and many other leading multinationals – as well as 23 government members of the CEM – in developing and deploying enabling policies that will help business more easily embrace renewable technologies such as wind and solar.

Public involvement is led by the governments of Germany, Denmark, China, the U.K., the U.S., Mexico and the remaining European Union members, while IRENA’s involvement will be as part of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), RE100, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI).

"The private sector accounts for roughly 50% of the world’s electricity consumption and so must play a key role in the ongoing global energy transition," said IRENA director-general, Adnan Z. Amin. "Switching this demand to renewables will decrease emissions, generate jobs, and deliver a host of other environmental, social, and economic benefits across the globe."

Big names, big aims

As part of the private sector pledges made at CEM, Apple’s commitment to clean energy investment stood out. The innovative tech giant is currently working with its suppliers to install more than 4 GW of clean energy globally, of which half will be installed in China before 2020, the company said.

For its part, Facebook committed to funding REBA initiatives and to raise awareness through REBA of clean energy PPAs for businesses. The firm also pledged to work closely with utilities to develop green tariffs, and said that it is aiming to source 50% of its energy from clean sources in 2018.

Google’s pledges were more vague, but the company did at least make the right noises on clean energy collaboration, investment and partnerships. In contrast, Microsoft reaffirmed its commitment to power half of its global datacenters by solar, wind and hydro energy by 2018, rising to 60% by 2020.