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50 years of crisis management – IEA anniversary in the middle of the energy crisis – News

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50 years of crisis management – IEA anniversary in the middle of the energy crisis – News

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The International Energy Agency is celebrating its 50th birthday. She wants to advance the energy transition globally. But the IEA is facing problems when switching to renewable energies.

When was the IEA founded? The International Energy Agency (IEA) was founded in 1974 during the oil crisis. At that time, the oil-producing countries had drastically reduced their production and prices rose to unprecedented heights. This showed how dependent the industrialized countries were on oil cartels like OPEC. With the IEA, the industrialized countries wanted to create a counterweight. The members – including Switzerland – were obliged to build up a 90-day supply of oil.

IEA member Switzerland

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Switzerland is a founding member of the IEA. At that time, the main aim was to secure shared oil reserves. “Today the IEA is an important platform for Switzerland for data, but also for exchange with other countries,” explains Benoît Revaz, Director of the Federal Office of Energy. He took part in the ministerial conference. The energy transition costs a lot of money and time is short. The biggest challenge for Switzerland is now to be able to quickly realize large investments and quickly approve projects for new energy sources. According to Revaz, the IEA helps because all member countries pursue the same goals.

What is the IEA doing today? The IEA has now taken on additional tasks. At their headquarters in Paris – in the immediate vicinity of the Eiffel Tower – around 400 energy experts process vast amounts of data. These flow into regular reports on various energy sources. The analyzes of the oil, gas and coal markets are considered the best neutral data base for politics and business. For several years now, the IEA has also been publishing data on the occurrence and extent of renewable energies or on critical minerals for the energy transition.

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Caption: A dock worker in a port in Chile checks a shipment of copper that is to be exported to Asia. (Picture taken August 21, 2006) REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez

What are the challenges? The world‘s dependence on fossil fuels has been clearly demonstrated during the pandemic and by Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. The switch to renewable energies should now take place quickly. But it is expensive and involves risks. Countries like the USA are spending billions to bring in the production and development of these technologies; poorer countries fear being left behind in the energy transition. And in general, governments and the private sector are arguing about who should pay for the gigantic costs of new energy innovations and infrastructure.

What dangers does the IEA see? If the energy transition is to happen quickly, enormous amounts of metals such as copper, lithium or nickel are needed for batteries, solar or wind systems. China is a leader in raw materials and technologies. The West also missed the opportunity to rely on these technologies at an early stage. There is now a threat of new dependencies in the energy supply.

Where should the IEA go? The IEA wants to grow. New countries are to join in at the anniversary ministerial conference. As a major energy consumer, India has now also applied for membership. The IEA is also opening a regional office in Singapore to strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia. And last but not least, IEA Secretary General Fatih Birol is toying with integrating China. The idea: To create a large energy family. Because the energy crisis is global and should be solved globally. This global energy family is intended to ensure that poorer countries are also integrated into the energy transition. However, the IEA’s task of documenting and coordinating the energy transition is unlikely to become any easier.

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