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.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

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

Yemen: Tackling the world’s largest humanitarian crisis

4 things to know about the state of conflict today

5 amazing schools that will make you wish you were young again

Yemen: 11 more ‘terrible, senseless’ civilian deaths reported, following attack in Sana’a – top UN official

Hiring more female leaders is good for profits. Here’s the evidence

Upgraded EU visa information database to increase security at external borders

Towards a zero tobacco public space in Cameroon

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

Theresa May expresses her optimism about Britain’s economic success while UK business outlook seems ominous

EU Leaders’ meeting in Sofia: Completing a trusted Digital Single Market for the benefit of all

We need a new Operating System for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

European Accessibility Act: Parliament and Council negotiators strike a deal

Interview with ourselves: the mental health of health professionals

Could entrepreneurship be the real cure against the side effects of Brexit?

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Lake Chad trees keep deadly drought at bay

Another doomed EU attempt to interfere in Libya?

It’s time to strengthen global digital cooperation

A Sting Exclusive: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on South China Sea issue at the ASEAN Regional Forum

In Rwanda, high-speed drones are delivering blood to remote communities

Parliament sets up plan to fight the 3,600 criminal rings of EU

To all far-right partisans who exploit Charlie Hebdo atrocity: a peaceful reply given by a peaceful student

Preparing the future today: World Health Organisation and young doctors

Ensure that widows are ‘not left out or left behind’, UN chief urges on International Day

Member states jeopardising the rule of law will risk losing EU funds

Artificial intelligence: Commission takes forward its work on ethics guidelines

7 ways to break the fast fashion habit – and save the planet

EU budget: Commission proposes major funding increase for stronger borders and migration

Trump stumbles badly on his Russian openings; Europeans wary of Putin

EU mobilises €21 million to support Palestine refugees via the UN Relief and Works Agency

Your morning cup of coffee contains 140 litres of water

European Semester Autumn Package: Bolstering inclusive and sustainable growth

This surgeon runs a makeshift hospital for over 200,000 people

Marco Polo’s Dream

5 surprising ways to reuse coffee grounds

Youth Entrepreneurship Issue of the month: JEN, organisers of JADE October Meeting, on why JEs should come together

Global Citizen – Volunteer Internships

From Shadows to Sunlight, Paraguay’s Road to Transparency

UN postal agency ‘regrets’ US withdrawal

6 young leaders who are improving the state of the world on International Youth Day

Main results of EU-Japan summit which took place on 25/04/2019 in Brussels

These are the world’s most positive countries

European Business Summit 2014 Launch Event: “Energising Industrial Growth”

“Smoking steam instead of tobacco, are the E-cigarettes a safer alternative?”

Syria: ‘Deplorable’ violence in Idlib against civilians, humanitarian workers must ‘stop immediately’: UN Coordinator

Climate activist Greta Thunberg urges MEPs to put words into action

How music can help children with autism connect

‘Great cause of concern’ UN chief tells Security Council, surveying ‘bleak’ state of civilian protection

EU-UK: A deal synonymous to ‘remain’, England pays the Irish price

More refugees being helped by family, work and study permits, finds OECD and UNHCR study

UN chief welcomes re-opening of key Gaza border crossing

Human health – litmus paper for the climate change?

5 charts that explain big challenges facing Italy’s new government

UN chief welcomes new push by El Salvador’s political parties to begin fresh dialogue

Working Muslim women are a trillion-dollar market

New EU rules ensure better protection for 120 million holidaymakers this summer

US must abide by humanitarian refugee accords: UN refugee agency

Who is responsible for public health? The tendencies and its benefits –or not– on Health Education around the world

Statelessness for terrorists’ families, never an acceptable option, urges UN rights chief

UN police officer recognized for protecting vulnerable Somali women from abuse

European Youth Forum welcomes the European Commission’s proposed revision of the Union Code on Visas, however it does not go far enough

More Stings?

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