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 sound 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 4,300,000,000 barrels (680,000,000 m3) of oil.
The Executive Director of the IEA is Nobuo Tanaka. The Deputy Executive Director is Richard Jones. On March 11, 2011, Former Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Maria van der Hoeven, was selected as the next Executive Director. She will take the office starting 1 September 2011.
The IEA was established to meet the industrial countries' energy organization needs in the wake of the 1973–1974 oil crisis. Although the OECD had structures for dealing with energy questions such as the Council, the Executive Committee, the Oil Committee, and the Energy Committee, 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. 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 find "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 experiences in dealing with oil and other energy questions, had expertise in economic analysis and statistics, had established staff, physical facilities, legal status and privileges andimmunities, and was the principal organization of the industrial countries. However, as the OECD has a rule of unanimity and not all member states were not 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" (I.E.P. Agreement).
During its history, the IEA had intervened oil markets two times releasing oil stocks — in 1991 during Gulf War, and in 2005 for a month after Hurricane Katrina affected USA production by releasing 2 million barrels per day (320×10^3 m3/d).
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.
Guy Pearse states 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.
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.
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.
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 (11.9×10^6 m3/d) while the IEA forecasts a production of 105 million barrels per day (16.7×10^6 m3/d). The lead author of the report, Dr. Kjell Aleklett, has claimed that IEA's reports are "political documents".
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."