A concerted push for clean energy innovation was the only way through which the world could meet its climate goals, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Monday as it released its flagship Energy Technology Report.
The Report, Energy Technology Perspectives 2015 (ETP 2015), which was copied to the Ghana News Agency, showed that despite a few recent success stories, clean energy progress was falling short of the levels needed to limit the global increase in temperatures to no more than two degrees Celsius,
It said it would be more challenging for the world to meet its climate goals solely through the UN negotiation process that was expected to yield an agreement this December 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 the process.
Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director of IEA, was quoted in the Report as saying that “the stakes were high for the energy sector, but it was also no stranger to profound technological change.
An incredible chain of innovations in the energy sector had been at the vanguard of social and economic transformation for over a century, and it was exciting to see the progress being made by solar panels and fuel economy improvements for passenger cars today, to name but two.”
The ETP 2015 Report provides a comprehensive analysis of long-term trends in the energy sector, centred on the technologies and the level of deployment needed for a more environmentally sustainable, secure, and affordable energy system.
It said recent success stories, such as the rapid growth of solar photovoltaics (solar PV) and last year’s inauguration of the world?s first large-scale power station, the Boundary Dam in Canada, equipped with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, clearly indicated that there was significant and untapped potential for accelerating research and development in clean technologies.
The Report pointed out that research and development alone were insufficient for moving new technologies from ideas to commercial products, and urged governments to play key roles in creating the initial market opportunities that sent signals to innovators and drove investment.
It also recommended public-private support for renewable energy technology, which had not always been efficiently targeted, but had transformed the market outlook for wind and solar to the extent that they were now the lowest-cost source of power in a number of regions.
The Report, the main scenario of ETP 2015, the 2-Degree Scenario (2DS), illustrated a transformed global energy system in which cumulative carbon emissions from fossil fuels were reduced by 40 per cent relative to the “business-as-usual” scenario, or 6DS.
It said ETP 2015 analysis showed that the 2DS did not just allow global climate goals to be met, but also enhances energy security, stressing, ?best of all, it makes economic sense: for every dollar invested in the clean-energy technologies that drive the 2DS, nearly three dollars in fuel costs are avoided by 2050.?
The Report said building and maintaining strong innovation capacity in emerging economies would be key to successful deployment of sustainable energy technologies, where they may have the largest impacts, adding that domestic innovation of low-carbon technologies in emerging economies was increasing, with some countries especially China, closing the gap in key areas.
Maria van der Hoeven stressed that for obvious reasons, ETP 2015 could only model existing technologies, where the right support to innovation coupled with effective public-private partnerships could provide the energy technology breakthroughs that could amplify or hasten the low-carbon transition.
She added: “But we cannot be complacent. We are setting ourselves environmental and energy access targets that rely on better technologies. Today?s annual government spending on energy research and development is estimated to be USD 17 billion. Tripling this level, as we recommend, requires governments and the private sector to work closely together and shift their focus to low-carbon technologies.”