A concerted push for clean energy innovation is the only way the world can meet its climate goals, according to a recently released report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The report, ‘Energy Technology Perspectives 2015,’ shows that despite a few recent success stories, clean energy progress is falling well short of the levels needed to limit the global increase in temperatures to no more than 2 degrees C.
Moreover, it will be challenging for the world to meet its climate goals solely through the U.N. negotiation process that is expected to yield an agreement at the upcoming summit in Paris. That leaves the development and deployment of new, ground-breaking energy technologies as key to mobilizing climate action, and the report urges policymakers to step up efforts to support them. In fact, the IEA report calls for the tripling of public spending in low-carbon research and development (R&D).
However, the IEA cautions that R&D alone is insufficient for moving new technologies from ideas to commercial products. Governments have a key role to play in creating the initial market opportunities that send a signal to innovators and drive investment. One success story involves public support for renewable energy technologies: Although it has not always been efficiently targeted, it has transformed the market outlook for wind and solar to the extent that they are now the lowest-cost source of power in a number of regions.
Finally, the report says that building and maintaining strong innovation capacity in emerging economies will be key to successful deployment of sustainable energy technologies where they may have the largest impacts. Domestic innovation of low-carbon technologies in emerging economies is increasing, with some countries – especially China – closing the gap in key areas.