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

Featured Stings

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

Kellen Europe Hosts EuroConference 2016

JADE @ European Business Summit 2014: Youth Unemployment – a drive to Entrepreneurship

Volkswagen getting away with it in Europe

3 reasons why AI won’t replace human translators… yet

Stigmatized, shunned and shamed, International Widows’ Day draws attention to their unique needs

Connected Claims returns to London in 2018

Philippe de Backer of ALDE at European Business Summit 2015 stresses: “Reinvent your business”

EU economy: Between recession and indiscernible growth

Parallel downfalls of Merkel and Deutsche Bank threaten Germany and Europe

Eurozone very close to a sustainable growth path

US, Russia oblige each other in Syria and Ukraine selling off allies

Draghi keeps the euro cheap, helps debt refinancing, recapitalization of banks and growth

Medschool 4.0: how to succeed in the smart revolution of healthcare

The Italian ‘no’ and France’s Fillon to reshape Europe; Paris moves closer to Berlin

80,000 youngsters at risk in DRC after forcible expulsion from Angola: UNICEF

Heat-resistant crops, ‘green’ infrastructure, can prepare Near East and North Africa to better tackle droughts – UN agency

European Commission requests that Italy presents a revised draft budgetary plan for 2019

Who cares more about taxpayers? The US by being harsh on major banks or the EU still caressing them?

Mobile 360 Series – Russia & CIS: Empowering the Digital Economy

Why are the Balkans’ political leaders meeting in Geneva this week?

Charges against Baha’i in Yemen must be dropped: UN experts urge release of detainees

High level political talks didn’t break the stalemate in Ukraine

Eurostat overturns Commission’s assessment of the economy

New rules for audiovisual media services approved by Parliament

French full-body veil ban, violated women’s freedom of religion: UN Human Rights Committee

European Youth calls on European Council for urgent action on “humanitarian crisis” and questions the EU/Turkey deal respect of human rights

It’s time to end our ‘separate but unequal’ approach to mental health

Armed groups threaten every child in Central African Republic, UNICEF warns

Are the G20 leaders ready to curb corporate tax-avoidance?

Will CETA be implemented after eight long years or it will be vetoed by the EU citizen?

Economic sentiment and business climate stagnate in miserable euro area

The Bavarians threaten Berlin and Brussels with immigration crisis

10 months were not enough for the EU to save the environment but 2 days are

Eurozone economy desperately needs internally driven growth

How can education empower youth to become tomorrow’s leaders

EU Parliament and Council: Close to agreement on the bank resolution mechanism

Virtual Doctor: a core part of modern healthcare?

Food supply chain: A step closer to ending unfair trading

UN chief calls for ‘solidarity, compassion and action’ on World Refugee Day

How to future-proof India’s economy

‘Unconscionable’ to kill aid workers, civilians: UN Emergency Coordinator

Will Brexit shatter the EU or is it still too early to predict?

“A global threat lies ahead worsened after the EU’s green light to the Bayer-Monsanto merger”, a Sting Exclusive by the President of Slow Food

IMF v Germany: Eurogroup keeps the fight under control

How will the EU face the migration crisis when the Turkish threats come true?

Parliament backs a modernised EU electoral law

How will EU look after French, Dutch and German Elections and what will be the implications for Youth Entrepreneurship?

European Youth, quo vadis?

‘Staunch support’ for Iran nuclear deal tempered by concern over missile testing

Indoor air pollution is deadly. Here’s an unconventional solution

The EU has to prove it can remain one piece

Pharmaceuticals conceal drug side effects with the EU’s Court blessing

Can we balance conservation and development? Science says yes

Commission proposes fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and North Sea for 2019

Eurogroup: IMF proposes Germany disposes

A Sting Exclusive: “Regulators and the shipping industry collaborating for a sustainable future”, written by the Secretary General of IMO

Global Talent – Professional Internships

8 amazing facts to help you understand China today

ECB should offer more and cheaper liquidity if Eurozone is to avoid recession

AIDEX 2015: Humanitarian Hero Award Winner Announced

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