Providing clean, renewable energy to the 1.4 billion people who are living without electricity is the No. 1 priority of the United Nations, the secretary general of the U.N. said during a visit this week to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden.
NREL, through its numerous partnerships with the U.N., is playing a crucial role in making that happen and building a sustainable world, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told a crowd of researchers assembled at
NREL’s Research Support Facility.
“When we put a priority on renewable energy we address job creation, we address climate change, women’s empowerment and food security,” Ban said. “Sustainable energy cuts across nearly every major challenge we face today and will face in the future.
“We must work together to realize this initiative of sustainable energy,” Ban added, saying the U.N.’s goal is that every village in the world have access to electricity by 2030, and that there is a doubling of renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2030.
“We can create jobs that will stimulate economies and provide universal access to all the people,” he said. “That is why the General Assembly has declared next year as the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All.”
Ban said that in the past five years he has traveled to both poles, to the Aral Sea, to Mount Kilimanjaro and other spots around the world seeing evidence of the negative effects of climate change, caused in part by the burning of fossil fuels.
“I’m here at NREL to learn more about how we can work together on international issues, how research communities can help us realize sustainable energy,” he told the gathering of NREL employees. I fully support your work.”
Ron Benioff, manager of International Programs at the facility in Golden, told Ban that NREL is working with 50 countries, ranging from biofuels partnerships with Brazil, to solar work in China and Europe, to helping island nations integrate solar and wind power into their electric grids.
Senior project leader Phil Voss noted that NREL is working with the Energy Department and the Department of State to help Haiti emerge from the devastating earthquake with a renewable energy package that will bring electricity to more Haitians than before the disaster. The project has mapped Haiti’s solar and wind resources and is working on a plan to turn waste into energy.
NREL Senior Scientist Doug Arent, executive director of the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA), showed Ban an NREL-generated wind resource map of Central America, noting that it helped convince Nicaraguan officials to encourage wind energy development there.