Italian oil major Eni announced a three-year partnership Thursday with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to promote renewable energy and accelerate the energy transition.

The two groups agreed to share their experiences and identify barriers to investment in renewable energy, specifically in fossil fuel exporting countries.

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"We have reached a critical moment in the energy transition, one that requires the commitment and active participation of energy actors from across the spectrum,” IRENA’s General Director, Francesco La Camera, said.

“It is in the interests of big oil companies and fossil fuel exporting nations to embrace the transition and seek a leadership position in it. The partnership between Eni and IRENA will reinforce our common efforts to advance the low-carbon agenda in the decade of action.”

Focus on Africa

Eni and IRENA revealed in Thursday's announcement they will be especially focused on building agribusiness and industrial development initiatives in Africa to integrate the region into the biofuel value chain in a bid to help decarbonise the continent’s transport sector.

Eni noted it was already involved in the decarbonisation of Africa’s energy mix, with the oil giant leveraging renewable energy sources to reduce the use of fossil fuels in power generation.

The Italian company has had a presence in Africa since 1954, with the continent accounting for more than half of Eni’s total oil and gas production.

It is now looking to capitalise on the energy transition in the region, recently opening three solar power plants in Tunisia and Algeria, while it also has a 50:50 joint venture with state-run Sonangol in Anogla that is developing a solar PV project in the southern part of the country.

Leading role in the energy transition

Eni claims the agreement with IRENA will “enhance its international role as a leader in the energy transition”, while giving it the opportunity to contribute to debate on energy policies that IRENA promotes.

"The agreement with IRENA is a step forward in Eni’s pledge to reach net zero by 2050, as it leverages renewables and other technological and industrial solutions to successfully face the energy transition,” Eni's chief executive Claudio Descalzi said.

The agreement will push Eni’s plan to increase its installed capacity in renewables to 60 gigawatts by 2050.

In the last several years, Eni has accelerated its production of renewable energy, growing from 11.6 gigawatt hours in 2018 to 339.6 GWh in 2020.

The collaboration between Eni and IRENA will focus on biofuels, marine energy and offshore renewables to reach decarbonisation goals.