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 Milestones

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

UN ‘determined to lead by example’ on disability rights: Guterres

Uzbekistan wins its long fight against malaria, as global rates continue to rise

The European Sting @ Mobile World Congress 2014, Creating What’s Next for the World. Can EU Policy follow?

Sri Lanka PM: This is how I will make my country rich by 2025

UK: Crawley group wins European Citizens’ Prize

Why is black plastic packaging so hard to recycle?

These 4 leaders are working to improve integration in Southeast Asia

EU4FairWork: Commission launches campaign to tackle undeclared work

New EU energy labels applicable from 1 March 2021

How to harness the energy of social innovators for an inclusive recovery

Brexit: No deal without marginalizing the hard Tory Eurosceptic MPs

EU Covid-19 Certificate: a European solution for free testing is needed

Outbreak of COVID-19: The third wave and the people

Drinking water: new plans to improve tap water quality and cut plastic litter

A better answer to the ventilator shortage as the pandemic rages on

New Mozambique storm rips off roofs, brings lashing rain as aid response kicks in

The hidden downside to ocean data and how to make it more sustainable

Two rhythms and a sharpened pencil: how art can help us heal and make sense of the world

Parliament supports European Green Deal and pushes for even higher ambitions

The European Union’s Balkan Double Standard

GSMA Reveals Global Partners for MWC21 Barelona

5 ways to be a better humanitarian

Further reforms needed for a stronger and more integrated Europe

Universal access to energy is a major challenge for the Arab world. Here’s why

Commission and Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU underline importance of the European Health Data Space

Energy of African youth ‘propelling’ new development era as UN ties bear fruit

Work Together to Build a New Type of International Relations and a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity

Deal agreed to protect consumers against misleading and unfair practices

Security Council urged to help spare Syrians from ‘devastation’

MWC 2016 LIVE: Getty chief says one in four new images from phones

Link between conflict and hunger worldwide, ‘all too persistent and deadly’, says new UN report

How a ‘fourth-sector economic strategy’ can help us build a better future for all

Amidst ‘high political tension’, UN chief appeals to G20 leaders for stronger commitment to climate action, economic cooperation

‘Think beyond farm jobs’ to reach sustainable development, UN agriculture chief advises African youth

UN rights experts call on Russia to release Ukrainian film-maker whose life is in ‘imminent danger’

Use “blockchain” model to cut small firms’ costs and empower citizens, urge MEPs

Antitrust: Commission provides guidance on allowing limited cooperation among businesses, especially for critical hospital medicines during the coronavirus outbreak

Gender Disparity in Medicine: Why and How Do We Close the Gap?

More than 100,000 people have recovered from COVID-19

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

Why cities hold the key to safe, orderly migration

How India will consume in 2030: 10 mega trends

Europe led by Germany seems vulnerable to Trump’s threats

Sustainable finance: Commission welcomes deal on an EU-wide classification system for sustainable investments (Taxonomy)

These are the 4 most likely scenarios for the future of energy

How do we go about improving mental health in the community and reducing suicide rates in the 15-29 age group?

Reception conditions for asylum-seekers agreed between MEPs and Council

Heart attacks and strokes are more common on high pollution days, data shows

Protecting migratory species in a rapidly changing world

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

6 ways China and the United States could jumpstart trade reforms

GSMA Announces New Speakers for Mobile 360 Series – MENA, in association with The European Sting

Employers hold too much power over information. Workers must claim their data rights

New citizenship law in India ‘fundamentally discriminatory’: UN human rights office

Quality Education on the table at the European Parliament

The fight for female medical leadership

EU-China relations under investigation?

Thought AIs could never replace human imagination? Think again

Anti-Semitism ‘toxic to democracy’, UN expert warns, calling for better education

Beating cancer: Better protection of workers against cancer-causing chemicals

More Stings?

Comments

  1. vaishnavi Sisodiya says:

    Thanks for sharing useful information for all. AAKASH is a leading
    Renewable energy company in sri lanka
    engaged in the bamboo plantation and creating sustainable
    environment friendly sources of energy for the use of mankind.

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