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General Information

EU

Renewable energies play an increasingly important role in European energy policies. They are a major component of modern EU climate and energy policy and contribute substantially to security of supply, environmental sustainability and competitiveness in Europe. In addition, renewable energies also play a major role in external EU relations.

There has been a continuous and steady development in renewable energies in the EU in recent years. Its share in EU-wide final energy consumption was already at approximately 10.4% in 2009. The EU has agreed on ambitious expansion targets to advance the increased use of renewable energies. In March 2007, during the German Presidency, the European Council decided to increase the share of renewable energies in the EU to 20% by 2020.

In order to achieve these ambitious expansion targets, an encompassing EU Directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (2009/28/EC) was passed in April 2009, with its transposition into national law to be concluded by 5 December 2010. The directive sets binding national targets for all EU member states. Germany, for example, must increase its share of energy from renewable sources in final energy consumption to a minimum of 18% by 2020. The directive relies mainly on improved and stable national support systems in order to promote an effective and efficient expansion of renewable energies in all member states. However, it allows for EU member states to achieve their respective national targets via transboundary cooperation with other member states within the framework of so-called cooperation mechanisms. These enable the statistical transfer of target achievement volumes between member states, the joint financing of projects and the mutual integration of national support systems at least in part.

The directive was part of the EU climate and energy policy package decided upon in December 2008 which implements the climate and energy targets agreed upon under the German EU Presidency. It will be the first directive to provide a comprehensive regulation for the entire renewable energy sector, i.e. the electricity, heating/cooling and transport sectors, in the EU. In its progress and financing communication of 31 January 2011 (COM (2011) 31 final + ADD 1-3) the European Commission states that the Renewable Energies Directive provides a comprehensive and robust supportive legislative framework allowing for the European-wide renewable energy target to be achieved and even surpassed provided that the EU and the member states now focus on the specific implementation of the directive. This was also reemphasised by the Special European Council "Energy" on the EU 2020 energy strategy which took place on 4 February.

International

Renewable energies are gaining importance also on the international level. The renewables 2004 conference in Bonn triggered a global campaign for expanding sustainable energy supply systems around the world. Follow-up conferences in Beijing (2005), Washington (2008) and Delhi (2010) as well as international initiatives and networks such as REN21 have continuously propelled this approach.

Renewable energies will continue to play a key role in achieving the international climate protection targets and in securing global energy supply. Various international organisations and networks such as the International Energy Agency (IEA) and REN21 have noted that the share of renewable energies will have to be increased substantially to enable a worldwide emission reduction of 50% by 2050 as compared to 1990 levels.

This is why Germany undertook the initiative to set up the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). This international governmental organisation was formally established in Bonn, Germany, in January 2009. The IRENA Statute entered into force on 8 July 2010 after having been ratified by 29 countries; additional countries have ratified the Statute in the meantime. In April 2011 the first General Assembly of IRENA will take place in Abu Dhabi, concluding the preparatory phase and turning IRENA into a full fledged international organisation (www.irena.org).

The major objective of IRENA is to provide specific and comprehensive advice and support to industrialised and developing countries in their efforts to expand renewable energies in their countries. Thus, IRENA is the first international organisation to focus on the role of renewable energy sources as a means of meeting the global challenges of secure energy supply, climate and environmental protection and combating poverty.