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Accelerating Sustainable Energy Innovation

Accelerating Sustainable Energy Innovation

Sustainable energy innovation is the key to tapping the full potential of energy as a contributor to future growth and prosperity.

Sustainable energy innovation is the key to future growth and prosperity.

Energy consumption and production activities contribute two-thirds of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As such, energy also has the greatest potential to help slow GHG-driven climate change, by accelerating the pace of innovation and supporting the large-scale deployment of sustainable energy technologies.

However, this innovation is not keeping pace with growing challenges related to climate change and increased demands for energy access. Despite the recent surge in investment in clean energy and the evolution of enabling policy instruments, investments in clean energy R&D are far too low and significant barriers still prevent sufficient levels of innovation.

This white paper identifies the need for a systemic approach for innovation as well as the global catalysts and actions that can reinforce innovation across various stages and technologies. This white paper also proposes several ideas designed to inspire decision-makers and spark discussion about future step-changes required for sustainable energy innovation. These ideas include the following:

  • Use an institutional approach to energy innovation to better connect isolated groups of experts and plug the gaps that prevent faster conversion of basic research to commercially feasible projects.
  • Provide better support to capital-intensive innovation areas and encourage collaboration in the pre-competitive stages of innovation by pooling R&D investment from countries, companies and philanthropists.
  • Develop instruments for co-investment of public R&D grants with venture capitalists to better target grant recipients, lower administration requirements of grant applications, create collaborations between public and private capital sources, and enable better timing of grant availability.
  • Co-design technology roadmaps across the public and private sector, and across borders, to improve credibility, speed up commercialization and bridge the technical and financial 'valleys of death' that plague innovation.
  • Redesign and mainstream public procurement strategies so they are forward-looking, focus on outcomes rather than specific technologies, and offer 'demand-side assistance' to early-stage innovations in areas where technology solutions do not exist.
  • Improve transparency of public R&D expenditure for sustainable energy innovation, employ existing multilateral frameworks to facilitate better data sharing between countries, and address underserved innovation areas.

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