New and renewable sources of energy have received a great deal of attention since the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002. Solar, wind, and hydroelectric power not only produce minimal carbon emissions once generating systems are in place, they also help reduce poverty through improved energy access in underserved areas. Energy from renewable sources currently accounts for five percent of global energy supply.
Though the use of renewables is increasing faster than any other resource stream, widespread adoption is constrained by a multitude of policy, regulatory and financial barriers. Support for research and development, market incentives, and energy prices that fully reflect environmental and social costs may all contribute to take-up. One such initiative is the Clean Development Mechanism established under the Kyoto Protocol, which provides financing for the diffusion of renewable energy technologies in developing countries.
DESA works with governments, at their request, on renewable energy policies and strategies at the national level. In China, assistance has been provided in the commercialization of renewable energy technologies; in small island developing States on the practical application of solar energy systems;.and, in Arab States for the strengthening of renewable-energy development capacities. With support from the Government of Iceland, DESA also organized an international seminar in 2006 to exchange experiences on the production and use of hydrogen from renewable energy sources.