Presidents column: The global voice for renewables

This month the International Solar Energy Society (ISES) is expanding the reach of its monthly newsletter to everyone who has been in touch with our Society via e-mail over the past several years for one reason or another, like those who have attended past Congresses, signed up for our webinars, or just expressed an interest in our Society’s activities through our website.

ISES’ founding dates back to 1954 as the Association of Applied Solar Energy, later renamed to the Solar Energy Society and then, in 1970, the International Solar Energy Society. Through its Solar Energy Journal, its Congresses, and its participation in other conferences, the Society and its numerous national Sections have long advocated for R&D by governments and private enterprises to support promising new solar energy technologies for key end-use applications such as power generation, space and water heating, and sustainable building design. For many decades ISES and its Sections were the primary voice supporting renewable energy R&D, including technologies beyond solar, such as wind, geothermal, hydro, and bio-energy. By the beginning of this century these research efforts have paid off with the establishment of many profitable businesses involved in manufacturing, marketing, and deploying these cost-competitive technologies.

Due to the compelling evidence of human caused climate change, for which mitigation requires the decarbonization of our energy system, along with the economic and social benefits that come from both distributed and centralized renewable energy programs, ISES will continue to be the global voice for renewable energy. As a research and knowledge based international membership organization with extensive partnerships throughout the renewable energy community, we will continue to advocate for a renewable energy transformation to achieve the environmental, economic, and societal benefits called for by international initiatives such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular Goal #7 “Affordable and Clean Energy”. Our expanded newsletter outreach is one step we are taking to highlight the opportunities and achievements of global renewable energy programs.

The ISES Board recently held its annual strategy meeting at ISES Headquarters in Freiburg, Germany and approved a workplan that will strengthen these outreach activities through a number of mechanisms. Besides our newsletters and monthly webinar programs, we will be providing highlights of key research results coming out of our Solar Energy Journal and producing additional documents and info-graphics that are intended to de-mystify the notion that renewables can play only a limited role in our future energy system. The world is already experiencing a revolutionary energy transformation where renewable energy deployments are exceeding even the most optimistic projections of many analysts made just a few years ago. Especially in the power sector, capital costs and the levelized cost of energy for wind and solar projects are now so competitive that much of the new generation capacity being installed by utilities around the world is coming from renewable sources. In this issue, and in the months to come, you will find articles prepared by ISES members and Sections and from our many partners that document progress and best practices in the renewable energy transformation, showcasing the technical feasibility of a world powered 100% by renewable energy.

A good example of these stories can be found in the adjoining article by the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). This article describes the completion of a solar and wind resource mapping program designed to stimulate significant new investments in these technologies in the developing world. Several of our ISES corporate and individual members have been actively involved in this groundbreaking program.

I hope you benefit from and enjoy our newsletters. I look forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions.

This article was written by:

Dr. David Renné

ISES Immediate Past President