After a tumultuous year, the International Energy Agency has a new Executive Director in former Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Maria van der Hoeven.
As the energy arm of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, representing developed-country interests, the IEA was until recently largely viewed as a statistics-gathering and research operation. The group occasionally moved markets or influenced policies through its release of compelling numbers, and has been at the forefront of moves by the industry to embrace more renewable generation sources and grapple with limiting emissions that cause climate change.
But the IEA caught energy markets off guard earlier this summer when it handled a coordinated release of strategic petroleum reserves from consumer countries to counter the impacts of limited exports from Libya. The move roiled oil prices, but its impact on the market was soon overwhelmed by the uncertainty spreading from developed-world debt crises, particularly the mid-summer political standoff over raising the US debt ceiling.
The IEA’s board voted in March to approve van der Hoeven’s appointment, and today she takes over from Nobuo Tanaka of Japan.
“Ms. Van der Hoeven is a fierce support of market principles, promoting transparency and establishing a level playing field,” the IEA said today in a statement, using unusually strong language for a multilateral agency.
“It is her personal conviction that energy production and use should be made comprehensively more efficient and cleaner by improving energy efficiency, developing and using renewables, and producing and using energy otherwise generated in the cleanest possible ways, such as clean fossil fuels and carbon capture and storage,” the statement said.