International Energy Agency
IEA Member states
Candidate for accession
Association Member States
• Executive Director
• Deputy Executive Director
The International Energy Agency (IEA; French: Agence internationale de l'énergie) is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis. The IEA was initially dedicated to responding to physical disruptions in the supply of oil, as well as serving as an information source on statistics about the international oil market and other energy sectors.
The IEA acts as a policy adviser to its member states, but also works with non-member countries, especially China, India, and Russia. The Agency's mandate has broadened to focus on the "3Es" of effectual energy policy: energy security, economic development, and environmental protection. The latter has focused on mitigating climate change. The IEA has a broad role in promoting alternate energy sources (including renewable energy), rational energy policies, and multinational energy technology co-operation.
IEA member countries are required to maintain total oil stock levels equivalent to at least 90 days of the previous year's net imports. At the end of July 2009, IEA member countries held a combined stockpile of almost 4.3 billion barrels (680,000,000 m3) of oil.
The IEA has been strongly criticised for having consistently highly inaccurate forecasts of both fossil fuel and renewable energy. Fossil fuel predictions have been criticised as being highly optimistic, and estimates of renewable energy deployment were consistently found to be extremely pessimistic. Some renewable predictions were reached more than fifteen years early, with estimates being off by almost five thousand percent over five years.
The IEA has also been criticized for failing to create a 1.5°C scenario and place it centrally in its annual World Energy Outlook report. All IEA member countries have signed the Paris Agreement which strives to limit warming to 1.5°C and two thirds of IEA member governments have made commitments to emission neutrality in 2050. The IEA's Sustainable Development Scenario projects net-zero emissions in 2070, two decades too late.
The IEA was established to meet the industrial countries' energy organization needs in the wake of the 1973–1974 oil crisis. Although the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had structures such as the Council, the Executive Committee, the Oil Committee, and the Energy Committee that could potentially deal with energy questions, it could not respond effectively to the crisis. The OECD had adopted the Oil Apportionment Decision [C(72)201(Final)], laying out procedures to be carried out in the event of an oil supply emergency in Europe, but these procedures were not implemented during the crisis. In addition, the OECD had adopted recommendations on oil stockpiling in Europe, but due to their limited scope, these measures could have only a limited role in an oil supply emergency.
Establishment of the new organization was proposed by United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in his address to the Pilgrims Society in London on 12 December 1973. Also in December 1973, at the summit of the European Communities in Copenhagen, Danish Prime Minister Anker Jørgensen, who chaired the summit, declared that the summit found it "useful to study with other oil-consuming countries within the framework of the OECD ways of dealing with the common short and long term energy problems of consumer countries."
At the Washington Energy Conference on 11–13 February 1974, the ministers of thirteen principal oil consumer countries stated "the need for a comprehensive action program to deal with all facets of the world energy situation by cooperative measures. In so doing they will build on the work of the OECD."
While creating a new energy organization, it was decided to utilize the framework of the OECD, as it had experience in dealing with oil and other energy questions, had expertise in economic analysis and statistics, had established staff, physical facilities, legal status and privileges and immunities, and was the principal organization of the industrial countries. However, the OECD has a rule of unanimity, and not all member states were ready to participate. Therefore, instead of an integrated approach, an autonomous approach was chosen.
The IEA was created on 18 November 1974 by the Agreement on an International Energy Program (IEP Agreement).
During its history, the IEA has intervened in oil markets three times by releasing oil stocks – in 1991 during the Gulf War, in 2005 by releasing 2 million barrels per day (320×103 m3/d) for a month after Hurricane Katrina affected US production, and most recently in 2011 to offset continued disruption to oil supplies as a result of the 2011 Libyan civil war.
In April 2001, the IEA, in collaboration with five other international organisations (APEC, Eurostat, OLADE, OPEC, UNSD) launched the Joint Oil Data Exercise, which in 2005 became the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI).
In June 2014 in its World Energy Outlook report, the IEA warned US$48 trillion in investment and credible long term policy planning would be required between 2014 and 2035 to secure sufficient energy supplies for that period. "The reliability and sustainability of our future energy system depends on investment. But this won't materialize unless there are credible policy frameworks in place as well as stable access to long-term sources of finance. Neither of these conditions should be taken for granted," van der Hoeven said in a statement accompanying the report. International Energy Agency (IEA) Ministerial meeting was held in Paris, France on 7 and 8 November 2017.
Only the OECD member states can become members of the IEA. Except for Chile, Iceland, Israel, and Slovenia, all OECD member states are members of the IEA. In 2014, Estonia joined the IEA and became its 29th member. Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Singapore and Thailand are the associate members of IEA. In 2018, Mexico joined the IEA and became its 30th member.
In March 2017, after a series of intensive consultations with all the relevant ministries, India joined the IEA as an association country. This was a major milestone for global energy governance and another major step towards the IEA becoming a truly global energy organisation and strengthening ties with the key energy players. Since then, Indian delegations have actively participated in IEA committees, meetings and workshops. The IEA launches major publications in New Delhi to share our findings with Indian energy communities and policy-makers.
Ahead of the launch of the 2009 World Energy Outlook, the British daily newspaper The Guardian, referring to an unidentified senior IEA official, alleged that the agency was deliberately downplaying the risk of peak oil under pressures from the USA. According to a second unidentified former senior IEA official it was "imperative not to anger the Americans" and that the world has already entered the "peak oil zone".
The Guardian also referred to a team of scientists from Uppsala University in Sweden who studied the 2008 World Energy Outlook and concluded the forecasts of the IEA were unattainable. According to their peer-reviewed report, oil production in 2030 would not exceed 75 million barrels per day (11.9×106 m3/d) while the IEA forecasts a production of 105 million barrels per day (16.7×106 m3/d). The lead author of the report, Dr. Kjell Aleklett, has claimed that IEA's reports are "political documents". Other research from the same group has thoroughly reviewed oil projections done by the IEA World Energy Outlook.
The anticorruption NGO Global Witness wrote in its report Heads in the Sand that "Global Witness' analysis demonstrates that the Agency continues to retain an overly-optimistic, and therefore misleading, view about potential future oil production." According to Global Witness, "the Agency's over-confidence, despite credible data, external analysis and underlying fundamentals all strongly suggesting a more precautionary approach, has had a disastrous global impact."
In the past, the IEA has been criticized by environmental groups for underplaying the role of renewable energy technologies in favor of nuclear and fossil fuels. In 2009, Guy Pearse stated that the IEA has consistently underestimated the potential for renewable energy alternatives.
The Energy Watch Group (EWG), a coalition of scientists and politicians which analyses official energy industry predictions, claims that the IEA has had an institutional bias towards traditional energy sources and has been using "misleading data" to undermine the case for renewable energy, such as wind and solar. A 2008 EWG report compares IEA projections about the growth of wind power capacity and finds that it has consistently underestimated the amount of energy the wind power industry can deliver.
For example, in 1998, the IEA predicted global wind electricity generation would total 47.4 GW by 2020, but EWG's report states that this level was reached by the end of 2004. The report also said that the IEA has not learned the lesson of previous underestimates, and last year net additions of wind power globally were four times greater than the average IEA estimate from its 1995-2004 predictions. This patterns seems to have continued through 2016.
Amid discontent from across the renewables sector at the IEA's performance as a global energy watchdog, the International Renewable Energy Agency was formed on January 26, 2009. The aim is to have the agency fully operational by 2010 with an initial annual budget of €25m.
Environmental groups have become critical of the IEA's 450 Scenario (created to align with the 2009 Copenhagen Accord), contending that it does not align with up-to-date climate science, nor is it consistent with the Paris climate agreement that aspires to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In March 2017, the IEA (along with IRENA) published a report that considers a safer climate scenario than their current 450S. This scenario offers improved chances of limiting global warming to less than two degrees, but – according to research organization Oil Change International – still falls short of adequately addressing climate science and the decarbonization required to reach agreed upon global climate limits. The IEA has stopped updating this safer climate scenario.
Concerns regarding the IEA's Sustainable Development Scenario (the successor to the 450 scenario) has also been raised by climate scientists and key financial institutions, who have called for 1.5°C scenario placed centrally in the World Energy Outlook. As of December 2019, two-thirds of IEA member states have committed to net-zero emissions by 2050; however, the IEA's Sustainable Development Scenario only gets to net-zero by 2070 - two decades too late.
In 2018 the IEA was criticized in Davos by Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Al-Falih, for overhyping the US shale oil industry amid forecasts of oversupply for the oil market in their January Oil Market Report. Al-Falih was exasperated with those claims, arguing that natural depletion, and strong demand growth meant that there was plenty of room for new supplies, while the shale drillers wouldn’t crash the market. He further said that the IEA is overstating the role of shale in a global market, and how the core job of the IEA, is not to take things out of context.
The IEA, arguably the most influential think tank widely used as source for policy makers around the world, is criticized for consistently underestimating the growth of solar PV in its yearly World Energy Outlook market forecasts. The solar power installed in 2016 is 4,813% more than what was predicted by IEA in 2006. In 2016 itself, the solar PV addition was 16 times more than what was predicted by IEA a year earlier. However, the IEA's current forecasts for solar power does not seem to catch up with the exponential growth in the sector. The misleading projections has perpetuated the false impression that the growth of solar power requires huge subsidies, and has the potential to discourage investment in solar energy market and consequently, hold back even faster growth.
IEA Bioenergy was set up in 1978 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) with the aim of improving cooperation and information exchange between countries that have national programmes in bioenergy research, development and deployment.
The International Energy Agency acts as energy policy advisor to 29 Member Countries plus the European Commission, in their effort to ensure reliable, affordable, and clean energy for their citizens. The IEA’s initial role was to co-ordinate measures in times of oil supply emergencies. As energy markets have changed, so has the IEA. Current work focuses on climate change policies, market reform, energy technology collaboration and outreach to the rest of the world, especially major producers and consumers of energy like China, India, Russia and the OPEC countries.
Activities are set up under Implementing Agreements. These are independent bodies operating in a framework provided by the IEA. There are 42 currently active Implementing Agreements, one of which is IEA Bioenergy.
Twenty two countries plus the European Commission participate in IEA Bioenergy: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and USA.
The work of IEA Bioenergy is structured in a number of Tasks, which have well defined objectives, budgets, and time frames. The collaboration which earlier was focused on Research, Development and Demonstration is now increasingly also emphasising Deployment on a large-scale and worldwide. Each participating country pays a modest financial contribution toward administrative requirements, shares the costs of managing the Tasks and provides in-kind contributions to fund participation of national personnel in the Tasks. The scope of the work undertaken within IEA Bioenergy is shown in the graphic.
Each Task is led by one of the participating countries (Operating Agent) with technical effort co-ordinated by a Task Leader. The work is directed by the Executive Committee. For the period 2016-2018, there are 10 Tasks. All of the Tasks have a common duration of three years.
The IEA Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (PVPS) is one of the collaborative R&D Agreements established within the IEA and, since its establishment in 1993, the PVPS participants have been conducting a variety of joint projects in the application of photovoltaic conversion of solar energy into electricity.
In 2011, IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said the current US$409 billion equivalent of fossil fuel subsidies are encouraging a wasteful use of energy, and that the cuts in subsidies is the biggest policy item that would help renewable energies get more market share and reduce CO2 emissions.
In November 2011, an IEA report entitled Deploying Renewables 2011 said "renewable energy technology is becoming increasingly cost competitive and growth rates are in line to meet levels required of a sustainable energy future". The report also said "subsidies in green energy technologies that were not yet competitive are justified in order to give an incentive to investing into technologies with clear environmental and energy security benefits". The renewable electricity sector has "grown rapidly in the past five years and now provides nearly 20 percent of the world's power generation", the IEA said. The IEA's report disagreed with claims that renewable energy technologies are only viable through costly subsidies and not able to produce energy reliably to meet demand. "A portfolio of renewable energy technologies is becoming cost-competitive in an increasingly broad range of circumstances, in some cases providing investment opportunities without the need for specific economic support," the IEA said, and added that "cost reductions in critical technologies, such as wind and solar, are set to continue."
In 2011, the International Energy Agency said that:
the development of affordable, inexhaustible and clean solar energy technologies will have huge longer-term benefits. It will increase countries’ energy security through reliance on an indigenous, inexhaustible and mostly import-independent resource, enhance sustainability, reduce pollution, lower the costs of mitigating climate change, and keep fossil fuel prices lower than otherwise. These advantages are global. Hence the additional costs of the incentives for early deployment should be considered learning investments; they must be wisely spent and need to be widely shared".
For the first time in 2012, an annual medium-term report which analyses the renewable energy sector will be published by the IEA. This publication on renewable energy – "which is now the fastest growing sector of the energy mix and accounts for almost a fifth of all electricity produced worldwide – will join annual medium-term reports on oil, gas and coal, which the IEA already produces". With this report, "renewable energy takes its rightful seat at the table alongside the other major energy sources".
As of 2015, there are 28 members, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United States, as well as EPIA, European Union, International Copper Association, SEIA and SEPA.
The IEA's Energy Conservation through Energy Storage (ECES) Programme has completed 20 developmental annexes covering seasonal thermal energy storage as sensible heat (or cold), as well as storage of thermal energy (sensible, latent, thermochemical) and electrical energy. Four other annexes are on-going.
The ECES programme has held triennial global energy conferences since 1981. The conferences originally focused exclusively on STES, but now that those technologies are mature and other kinds of energy storage technology are now also included. Since 1985 each conference has had "stock" (for storage) at the end of its name; e.g. Ecostock, Thermastock. They are held at various locations around the world. Most recent was Greenstock 2015 (the 13th International Conference on Thermal Energy Storage) in Beijing, China. Enerstock 2018 will be held in Adana, Turkey.
IEA promotes reduction of CO2 emissions for both conventional fossil-fuel carbon capture and storage (CCS) and for bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by working with member and partner nations on development of cost effective and efficient international and national energy policies including CCS, trading mechanisms and low-carbon technologies. The 2012 IEA report entitled "A Policy Strategy for Carbon Capture and Storage" argues for comprehensive policy mechanisms that include setting a market price on CO2 emissions as key to reduction of CO2 emissions. "In contrast to renewable energy or applications of energy efficiency, CCS generates no revenue, nor other market benefits, so long as there is no price on CO2 emissions. It is both costly to install and, once in place, has increased operating costs. Effective, well-designed policy support is essential in overcoming these barriers and the subsequent deployment of CCS technology."
At the Heiligendamm Summit in June 2007, the G8 acknowledged an EU proposal for an international initiative on energy efficiency tabled in March 2007, and agreed to explore, together with the International Energy Agency, the most effective means to promote energy efficiency internationally. A year later, on 8 June 2008, the G8 countries, China, India, South Korea and the European Community decided to establish the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation, at the Energy Ministerial meeting hosted by Japan in the frame of the 2008 G8 Presidency, in Aomori.
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