Skip to main content

Overcoming barriers to scaling up Renewable Energy

Overcoming barriers to scaling up Renewable Energy

23 September 2020

Group of Experts on Renewable Energy & Expert Group on Resource Management 

Joint Session – English Only 

10.00 to 12.00 CEST (Geneva time) 



GERE-7 Agenda item 3: Understanding renewable energy resource projects, portfolios and investments –applying UNFC
EGRM-11 Agenda item 9(e): Application of UNFC to renewable energy resources

This session will address renewable energy information challenges and the need for harmonized project milestones for business and governments alike. The session is jointly organized by the UNECE Group of Experts on Renewable Energy (GERE) and the UNECE Expert Group on Resource Management (EGRM).

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 is to "ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all". According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs , efforts need scaling up on sustainable energy, especially since 789 million people still lack electricity. The share of renewables in total energy consumption worldwide is only 17% so much more needs to be done. Furthermore, the IPCC’s 1.5 Degree Report noted that a transformation is needed if global warming is to be limited to 1.5°C and investments in renewable energy were identified as being a key characteristic of 1.5°C pathways . Given the scale of investment needed in renewable energy to fulfill SDG7 while limiting climate change (as per SDG13), it is essential that unnecessary transaction costs are eliminated, risks are clear, and information shared between businesses and governments is harmonized. The United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) can help with all of these things.

UNFC is applied at the level of projects and can be used to monitor portfolios and share information on energy investments. Importantly, each project is classified in terms of socio-economic viability, technical feasibility and the degree of confidence in resource estimates. UNFC is now applicable to bioenergy, geothermal, solar and wind energy resources. Work to apply UNFC to hydro and marine energy resources is progressing.

Many benefits come with using UNFC and standardising renewable energy resource classification, including: tracking of common milestones by project developers; harmonized monitoring of project pipelines by portfolio managers in utilities and integrated energy companies; improved information on project maturities and risks for investors, banks and regulators; and, directly comparable information on resource potentials for policymakers. With this in mind, the session will address: (a) latest progress in developing UNFC and its application to renewables; (b) new UNFC applications for governments, investors and industry; and, (c) challenges and barriers to application and how these can be overcome. Case studies will be highlighted along with the benefits of renewable energy resource classification for governments, regulators, banks, investors, project developers, utilities and energy companies.

Participants will be invited to consider and recommend how the two Groups could cooperate more closely to deliver on this important initiative and increase global awareness and uptake of UNFC.



Welcome:  Scott Foster, Director, UNECE Sustainable Energy Division, UNECE


Introductory presentation (video): UNFC - Renewable Energy Milestones for Business and Government, Jeremy Webb, Chair, EGRM Renewable Energy Working Group

Opening remarks:

Panel 1: Renewable energy information barriers

Moderated by Scott Foster, Director, UNECE Sustainable Energy Division

  1. Challenges for renewable energy information in governments: Kostiantyn Gura, Chair, GERE 
  2. Challenges collecting renewable energy resource information for REN21 reportsVibhushree Hamirwasia, Community Manager, REN 21 
  3. Addressing information gaps and accelerating renewable energy investments through project facilitation: Arjun Guha, Programme Officer, Project Facilitation & Support Division, IRENA  (7+3 min Q&A)

Discussion, General Q&A – 10 min

Panel 2: UNFC milestones and SDG7

Moderated by Paolo Frankl, Head, Renewable Energy Division, IEA

  1. Harmonised project milestones – reducing development risks: Fred Morse, Former Senior Advisor, Abengoa Solar
  2. Country engagement and case studies (Video): Sulamith Kastl, Regional Director, Identification of Geothermal Resources in Central America, German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (speaker) and Gioia Falcone, Rankine Chair – Professor of Energy Engineering, Systems, Power and Energy Division, School of Engineering, University of Glasgow
  3. Increasing access to finance: Mike McCurdy, Managing Director, Fuels & Power, ICF Inc.

Discussion, General Q&A

Concluding remarks

Jeremy Webb, Chair, EGRM Renewable Energy Working Group (5 min)