Sunburst: March 2023

ISES and the Global Energy Transformation

It has been over two years since I last wrote a Sunburst column for this newsletter. My last column focused on the inauguration of U.S. President Joseph Biden and how this change in the U.S. political administration can advance the clean energy revolution and climate change mitigation. Notable accomplishments have been the passage of the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” which makes substantial investments in renewable energy and efficiency, and the re-joining of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Yet much work remains to be done, in the U.S. and around the world, to achieve a carbon-free future and to limit global warming to no more than 1.50C above preindustrial levels. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just reported in its Synthesis Report of its sixth Assessment, the urgency has never been greater. ISES can, and is, playing a big role in achieving these important goals.

So this column summarizes how I and other ISES members are working with two key organizations, the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA’s) Coalition for Action, and the Global Solar Council (GSC), in advancing clean energy development.

The Coalition for Action held its annual Strategy Meeting t the IRENA 13th General Assembly held in Abu Dhabi in January. The participants supported the continuation of the Towards 100% Renewable Energy Working Group, in which ISES member Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes and I serve as co-Chairs. The Working Group had just published its fourth white paper on the topic of Sector Coupling and the key role it plays in the clean energy transformation. In 2023 the Group will focus on a policy brief related to a review of various studies proposing pathways to achieve 100% renewables by 2050. The Group will also launch work on a fifth white paper that will focus on socio-economic issues. 

During the meeting former ISES Board Member and past President Monica Oliphant was approved for a second term on the Steering Group, which provides key guidance and decision-making on the activities and make-up of the Coalition. Monica also remains active in the Community Power Working Group. At the meeting’s close, Dr. Rabia Ferroukhi, Director of IRENA’s Knowledge, Policy, and Finance Centre introduced this year’s lead of the Coalition, Ms. Ilina Radoslavova Stefanova. 

ISES members are welcome to contact the co-chairs of any of the six Working Groups to participate in their activities.

As reported previously, ISES is a founding member and a member of the Board of Directors on the GSC, which came into existence during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris in 2015 (COP 21 also spawned the Paris Climate Agreement). Through several election cycles ISES has retained its Board seat, on which I represent ISES, and this year I am honored to have been elected to be a Vice-Chair of the Council, which gives me a position on the GSC Executive Committee. 

Maté Heisz, the Director of Global Affairs at Solar Power Europe, became the Chair of the GSC in 2023. He brings dynamic leadership and far-reaching vision to the organization. At our first Board Meeting this year he presented a robust work plan for the Council, designed to better connect the global PV industry and associations with government decision-makers around the world. A key strategy is to represent the global solar PV industry, and the value its technology brings, at the climate negotiations. Last year at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the GSC’s CEO Gianni Chianetta collaborated with the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) to organize a Wind/Solar Pavilion near the area of negotiations (known as the “Blue Zone”). Several side events were conducted at the Pavilion during the two-week conference, including one organized with the assistance of ISES on “Standards and Quality of PV Installations”.

For COP 28 in Dubai this coming November the GSC plans to work with the newly launched Global Renewables Alliance (GRA) to have a “Renewable Pavilion” with the intention of informing the negotiators as well as all conference attendees on the key role that renewables, as an industry, can and must play to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

As a postscript I would like to welcome my colleague Sean White as the newest Gold Member of ISES. Sean is a certified PV Systems Trainer and the President/CEO of White House Solar, a PV systems design and installation company based in California. Sean was one of the presenters at the ISES-organized side event at the COP27 Wind/Solar Pavilion. He, along with ISES Board Member Robert Youngberg (who published a column in the ISES November 2022 newsletter) represented ISES as official Observer Delegates to COP27.

This article was written by:

Dr. David Renné

ISES Immediate Past President