In a bid to achieve a safer climate, the world is shifting from fossil fuels to cleaner energy – Awareness, policy, business, technology and innovation are all improving. However, the impact of climate change is growing much faster than anticipated, while the shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy is slow. The International Energy Agency projects that fossil fuels will dominate way beyond 2040, it also projects 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 recognised and replicated. The fight against climate change will suffer huge losses if these technologies fail to materialise.
To 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. Here are “six bold ideas” to accelerate sustainable energy innovations:
Establish an independent international sustainable energy innovation accelerator fund
This will help finance energy technology projects by blending public and private sources of capital.
Develop instruments for public-private co-investment
Public-private co-investment should be developed both 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.
Research and Development(R&D) refers to the work a business conducts for the innovation, introduction and improvement of its products and procedures. It is a series of investigative activities to improve existing products and procedures or to lead to the development of new products and procedures).
Mainstream energy innovation through strategic public procurement
This hinges on using the power of public procurement to accelerate development and commercialisation by providing first markets for innovative energy technologies and solutions
Create institutions for energy innovation
By this we refer to institutions 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 road-maps through public-private collaboration
This collaboration will 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
This will 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
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 jeopardised.
Countries need to think bold, engage public and private actors, and establish policies and frameworks that support an innovation culture.