Renewable energy group IRENA seeks big budget rise

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is seeking a more than ten-fold increase in its annual budget to promote sustainable energy, its interim director-general said on Tuesday.

“For the type of work we are thinking about, the optimal budget is about $250 to $300 million,” Adnan Amin told reporters. “It is realistic to expect growth in the budget in the medium term.”

Abu Dhabi-headquartered IRENA currently has an annual budget of about $20 million.

IRENA is optimistic of securing such a budget as investments in renewables continue to grow, driven by surging energy demand, he said. But governments would look at the organization’s performance and decide the budget level required, he added.

IRENA was set up in January 2009 to promote sustainable forms of renewable energy. About 150 countries have signed IRENA’s treaty, while 51 have signed and ratified it.

By April when the first session of the Assembly of IRENA takes place in Abu Dhabi, at least 10 more countries are likely to sign and ratify the treaty, said Amin.

Among the big countries, the United States is expected to ratify soon, Amin said. China and Saudi Arabia are also studying the possibility of joining, while Russia and Brazil are observing IRENA’s progress, he added.

“The principal challenge is to overcome the perception that renewable energy is uneconomic and technically unfeasible. Renewable energy should be seen as a solid option,” said Amin who took charge seven weeks ago.

Reporting by Stanley Carvalho; Editing by Amena Bakr and Jane Baird