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Clean-energy innovation essential to meeting climate goals


wind turbine windmills on a hill generating electricity

Wind turbine windmills on a hill generating electricity

A CONCERTED push for clean-energy innovation is the only way the world can meet its climate goals, the International Energy Agency said in its flagship energy technology report.

The report, Energy Technology Perspectives 2015 (ETP 2015), showed 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 two degrees C.

Moreover, it will be challenging for the world to meet its climate goals solely through the UN negotiation process that is expected to yield an agreement this December in Paris. That leaves the development and deployment of new, ground-breaking energy technologies as key to mobilising climate action, and the report urges policymakers to step up efforts to support them.

According to the IEA Executive Director, Maria van der Hoeven, the stakes are high for the energy sector, but it is also no stranger to profound technological change. “An incredible chain of innovations in the energy sector has been at the vanguard of social and economic transformation for over a century, and it is exciting to see the progress being made by solar panels and fuel economy improvements for passenger cars today, to name but two.

“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 $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.”

ETP 2015 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. 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 equipped with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, clearly indicate that there is significant and untapped potential for accelerating research and development in clean technologies.

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