Here are six bold ideas to accelerate sustainable energy innovation

Sustainable Development United Nations

Rio+20: Ban announces more than 100 commitments on sustainable energy (United Nations, 2016)

Energy innovation is struggling in a ‘valley of death’

Much has already been achieved in our fight against climate change, both in mitigation and adaptation. Awareness, policy, business, technology and innovation are all improving. However, the impact of climate change is gaining momentum much faster than expected, while the shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy is slow. The International Energy Agency projects that fossil fuels will dominate way beyond 2040. Indeed, by 2040, it forecasts that such fuels will still meet 74% of primary energy demand, down from 81% in 2016.

While energy transformation is happening, increasing demand growth is limiting its net impact. In general, technological innovation faces many challenges until it is widely recognized and replicated. Photovoltaic (PV) systems, for example, took more than three decades to move from space research to broad commercial application. We simply do not have another three decades to wait for nascent technologies to mature. Substantial acceleration in sustainable energy innovation is needed now.

Image: World Economic Forum

The technical and financial “valleys of death”, shown above, are major hurdles. Through both my work in the WEF Global Agenda Council on Decarbonizing Energy and in a personal capacity, I have engaged many entrepreneurs and innovators who are incubating revolutionary or disruptive technologies, including a low-cost way to separate CO2 from combustion gases.

Time and again, these innovators struggle to find funding for applied research, pilot and demonstration plants or market development. Meaningful access to supportive institutions or potential investors proves equally challenging. Those who reach out to such bodies often find themselves stonewalled by gatekeepers before even reaching the stage of serious examination. There are a multitude of promising technologies waiting to be leveraged. With the proper support and enabling environments needed to flourish, their impact on transforming our energy system could be massive.

Six bold ideas

Our fight against climate change will suffer huge losses if these technologies fail to materialize. This is a battle we cannot afford to lose. To break the stalemate and dramatically accelerate sustainable energy innovation, we have to think and act way beyond conventional wisdom. These challenges – such as climate change, solving inner-city pollution and ensuring global energy security – are unconventional. Following my participation with other experts in the World Economic Forum project “Partnering to Accelerate Sustainable Energy Innovation“, and after extensive discussions among key stakeholders in the energy innovation ecosystem, we have established “six bold ideas”.

Establish an independent international sustainable energy innovation accelerator fund to finance energy technology projects, blending public and private sources of capital

Develop instruments for public-private co-investment at the national or regional level to support and finance deep-tech energy innovations, reduce risks and improve the efficacy of available public and private funding. If properly designed, such instruments would not only stimulate more private money into breakthrough energy projects, but would also significantly improve the success rate and impact of public R&D grants

Mainstream energy innovation through strategic public procurement, using the power of public procurement to accelerate development and commercialization by providing first markets for innovative energy technologies and solutions

Create institutions for energy innovation that act as a single voice for public support in the field of energy innovation; bundle responsibilities as the main public funding authority; and overlook and steer the overall sustainable energy innovation process

Co-define energy technology roadmaps through public-private collaboration to align global policy and industrial innovation efforts. This would also create a credible road to scale for technology areas of high potential that are currently advancing slowly

Ensure government R&D spending is super-transparent to make the public R&D funding process more efficient and increase the transparency of opportunities and volume of public funding schemes for entrepreneurs and investors

Making ideas a reality

These bold ideas are recommendations from the World Economic Forum’s Accelerating Sustainable Energy Innovation whitepaper. They are intended to spark discussion and action among serious stakeholders. Their implementation may face challenges. For example, the creation of a national institute for energy innovation could meet with serious resistance from existing institutions if their vested interests were to be jeopardized. The establishment of an international fund to finance energy technology will face the traditional barriers of diversified national interests.

But the time to act is now, particularly following the Paris Agreement, which showed that the majority of nations are willing to come together and work towards a shared narrative. Countries need to think bold, engage public and private actors, and establish policies and frameworks that support an innovation culture.

In closing, let me share Japan’s bold challenge with you. Her position as a de facto world leader of climate initiatives was destroyed following the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, which drove most of her nuclear fleet out of service. Nuclear power had been the main source of CO2-free energy for Japan, known for its serious energy scarcity.

Faced with this sudden and unprecedented challenge, in 2013 Japan became the first ever nation to advocate a comprehensive hydrogen strategy, with close collaboration between the public and private sectors. Hydrogen is regarded as an important CO2-free energy source, as well as an energy carrier and storage solution. The launch of the Hydrogen Council in 2017 by leading multinational companies may well have been stimulated by the Japanese initiative. One bold step leads to another. Let the positive cycle begin.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

What people want – ignore at your peril

Reduce costs, save lives: how healthcare data can help emerging economies

UN chief welcomes South Sudan’s Unity government, lauds parties for ‘significant achievement’

In this ‘wildland’ farm in Britain, species thrive and yields are high

MWC 2016 LIVE: 5G to trigger disruption, claim industry leaders

EU elections update: Can the EU voters vote unaffected from fake news and online disinformation?

US-North Korea summit ‘an important milestone’ towards denuclearization, says Guterres

SMEs are driving job growth, but need higher investment in skills, innovation and tech to boost wages and productivity

Eurozone stagnates after exporting its recession to trading partners

From G7 announcement in August to Paris Peace Forum, Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) coalition gains momentum

Commission tries to solidify the EU statistical system

3 campaigns spreading the joy of reading to children at home

In the future of work it’s jobs, not people, that will become redundant

Large parts of the world are growing more fragile. Here are 5 steps to reverse course

Silicon Valley can do more to achieve the #GlobalGoals

Antibiotics are contaminating the world’s rivers

Future of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh ‘hangs in the balance’ – UNHCR chief

Protection of workers from biological agents: how to classify COVID-19

UN health agency to gauge global threat, as China confirms coronavirus transmission between humans

ACP-EU : Agreement on climate change, migration and post-Cotonou

Consumer protection: Commission welcomes political agreement by Council on the Representative Actions Directive

IMF’s Lagarde to Peoples of the world: You have to work more for the banks!

Ukraine: EU report notes continued implementation of the reform agenda though challenges remain

How a trade war would impact global growth

Opening – Parliament expresses support for victims of Fuego volcano in Guatemala

Benjamin Franklin was wrong: Amazon can tax evade

North Sea fisheries: MEPs back EU plan to sustain stocks of demersal species

European Youth Forum welcomes adoption of Sustainable Development Goals and calls on European countries to not ignore them!

Japan’s workforce will be 20% smaller by 2040

Darfur: Inter-communal tensions still high despite improved security, Mission head tells Security Council

The link between migration and technology is not what you think

Is poverty and exclusion the necessary price for EU’s recovery?

Digital distrust: We’re losing faith in technology to solve the world’s problems

UN experts urge Turkey to repatriate Irish woman associated with terror group

Here are 3 lessons Europe can learn from China’s flourishing start-ups

Rise in violent conflict shows prevention ‘more necessary than ever’: UN chief

UN will do ‘utmost to prevent and mitigate any risk of violence’ in DR Congo, pledges Mission chief

Financial transactions tax gets go ahead

‘The green economy is the future,’ UN chief says in Beijing, urging climate solutions that strengthen economies, protect the environment

Europe slammed by Turkey’s shaky Erdoğan; both playing with immigrants’ agony

How Finland is fighting fake news – in the classroom

How face masks, gloves and other coronavirus waste is polluting our ocean

Energy Union: EU invests a further €800 million in priority energy infrastructure

Basel III rules relaxed: Banks got it all but become more prone to crisis

Spanish vote – bad luck for Greece: Does Iphigenia need to be sacrificed for favourable winds to blow in Eurozone?

UN policewoman recognized for ‘speaking up and speaking out’ on behalf of the vulnerable

Meet Cipta: the comic book hero using her powers to tackle bullying in schools

This massive project in Spain is the latest milestone in Europe’s solar power boom

5 curve-flattening technologies being developed by young people

Τhe EU Refugee Crisis: a day in the life of a Refugee in Greece

Can one FTA and 110 lobby meetings make the dirty oil clean in Europe?

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ericsson/Cisco partnership on track, insist execs

EU-UK relations: MEPs approve rules to ensure Eurotunnel safety and cooperation

Booking.com commits to align practices presenting offers and prices with EU law following EU action

Commission welcomes the political agreement on the transitional rules for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)

The EU’s outermost regions: strengthened partnership bears fruit

Half the world’s population is still offline. Here’s why that matters

Eurozone to enter the winter…

Welcome to the COVID-19 era of world sport

UN chief urges India and Pakistan to dial down tensions in wake of Kashmir attack

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s