Sharply accelerating clean energy innovation

Today the International Energy Agency (IRA) released a long-awaited update on where innovation needs to be in the energy transition we are undergoing.

At their own admission, it has been three years since they (IEA) released its last Energy Technology Perspective (ETP) report. Although they argue they have been reflecting on the critical technology challenges, it is way overdue.

In this new report, “Energy Technology perspective: Special Report on Clean Energy Innovation” released today, 2nd July 2020, they have developed some improved modeling tools to bring a higher capacity to answer key technology questions in greater detail. This is good news.

IEA will further follow up later this year with a flagship ETP 2020 publication later in the year to keep a tighter and more consistent focus on the role and need of innovation to accelerate clean energy transitions.

They, the IEA are planning an IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit really soon to convene ministers and CEO’s to the aim of driving economic development by this more robust focus on clean, resilient, and inclusive energy systems. Continue reading

The Innovation Intensity needed in the Energy Transition

The level of innovation intensity within the Energy Transition is a fascinating one and one I continually place more and more a focus upon.

One really critical source of reference for tracking clean energy progress comes from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The recent reporting back on the development of the energy transition we are undertaking seems depressing reading. We need to accelerate innovation and technology adoption.

We are so off track for much of the Energy Transition. if we are going to get anywhere near the Paris Agreement, and the below 2-degree climate goal set by 2050, we need to focus even more on transforming our energy systems globally.

The IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) offers a pathway for the global energy system to reach three strategic goals: the Paris Agreement’s well below 2°C climate goal, universal energy access, and substantially reducing air pollution. The IEA assesses the status of 46 critical energy technologies and sectors and offers some general advice on how to get “on track” with this SDS approach.

Presently there is a rising concern the Covid-19 has knocked us off a path.

In the short term, the dramatic economic downturn has given rise to seeing air pollution levels drop during the “lockdown” months, but as was seen after the 2008 /9 financial crisis when the economy came “roaring back,” so did the carbon emissions.

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Solutions for Energy do need to be end-to-end and highly innovative

It is not just replacing energy sources; it is all about solution renewal end-to-end and that needs innovation
Within the energy transition, we must not lose sight of the final consumer. The final consumer of energy is going to be the ultimate arbitrator.

As we focus on the broader aspects of “energy transition” by re-engineering much of the existing infrastructure to create smart grids, provide storage, solar for individual homes, and the ability to introduce e-mobility across the transport sector we must keep the consumer always in mind. Is the alternative, those new solution more attractive?

As we seek to make a change in any energy supply or solution, we need to continually ask those basic questions innovators should always do. Has what we are offering greater utility and flexibility? Is the alternative more connected, more informative, and helpful? Does it provide better value than the existing solution? Simply, what is in it for me?

These are the connecting points to the end-user. They “feel” the value of the energy transition in benefit; in energy security, increased choices, and greater involvement in handling their own energy costs and local energy design choices, they see the “effect of change.”

The nature of the energy landscape will require the transformation of businesses, the push to find and develop new market dynamics and embrace government policy and regulations in an orderly and planned way. Still, above all, it needs to offer value, appeals, and that “compelling” reason to make a change.

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Why I like the idea of Energy Fitness Landscapes

I have been building out the value in my proposal of having a Fitness Landscape framework within the Energy Transition and why it makes sense.

Here in this post, I want to expand on my thinking around navigating a complex landscape that the Energy Transition demands.

I am looking at the Energy Transition from an evolving technology innovation perspective. In other words, what “forces” can be identified or promoted that can transform the existing energy system through the pursuit of the new invention, innovation, or technological advancement. Specifically, ones that will be needed over such an extended time and complexity of change that this Energy Transition will take, upwards of twenty to thirty years to give it an unstoppable momentum.

For this, we need to continually identify resources and capital by addressing the competencies, capabilities, and capacities to generate and accelerate change and consistently map these back to the realities of the landscape of change we are trying to traverse.

When you look through the lens of innovating at the Energy Transition, you are often questioning the fitness, or the reality to achieve something. Continue reading

Exploring the Energy Transition Fitness Landscapes – opening thoughts on Hydrogen

I am have been struggling with the Hydrogen Story. It is tough to relate to something where the realization may take 40 years to move from ambition to achievement. I get it that delivering Hydrogen is the vital piece of the decarbonizing of the world by 2050, yet it does seem a long, hard road to travel.

Hydrogen is undoubtedly becoming the big agenda ticket within any Energy Transition. It is the promise of being a central pillar for many parts of the world to achieve their targets of zero carbon by mid-century.

Hydrogen seems to holds, it seems, such a promise, but it is nearly all to do. There is so much to validate, prove, and certainly scale. We have some exciting pilots, even some full commercial-scale projects. Still, these are not connected up as we do not yet have a Hydrogen infrastructure, market, or overarching policies to build into a movement that shifts the energy needle. Lots of desire and willingness, but we do need to really make “hydrogen happen.”

I needed to step back and reframe my thinking on Hydrogen and also to help me understand the bigger “beast” of the Energy Transition. There was so much “hype” and future promise I was not getting a real sense of order.

So I sort of came to a screeching halt on researching further. I needed to get back into my ‘comfort’ zone of evaluating all the hype. So I wanted to go back to a comfortable place to ground my thinking. I have been wondering, have we the right focus to this? Are we often missing the real context of the need for the energy transition? Are we building the capabilities, competencies, and capacity to scale Hydrogen? In my view, we lack a specific focus. Opinions are varied, diverse, and in many cases, merely opportunistic. We need to a different level of strategic fitness

Applying Fitness Landscapes to the Energy Transition. Here in this post, I want to briefly introduce some thinking around navigating a complex landscape that the Energy Transition demands. I have taken Hydrogen as my opening exploration to traverse this landscape. Continue reading

Seeing the Energy Transition in Different Horizons and Innovative Ways

The majority of my recent work has been in investigating and building a comprehensive understanding of the #energytransition.

It is, to say at the very least, complex and challenging, but for me, satisfying and rewarding. Let me briefly explain how I am going about this and why. Why am I seeing the energy transition in different horizons and innovative ways?

My research ‘intensity’ (If I can call it that) had to become well structured, and I turned to some of my favorite, perhaps old fashion tools to capture my learning and give me my points of reference.

Included in this structured approach is different tools to capture and translate my progress. I have been building out extensive energy mind maps, constructing a dedicated posting site set up under “innovating4energy- a transition in all our lives” to ‘reflect’ some of my learnings and then to test that translation of my thinking, hopefully for others to relate too. Then building up the content within Microsoft’s One Note. Finally, lots and lots of saved files in an extensive folder on “the energy transition”.

The Energy Transition and building the new Smarter Infrastructure and Systems is a fascinating area within my present focus and future work. Here is why and how I am going about it:

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A new normal is upon us, the paradigm shift that will change the World.

There is a real increasing pressure to totally reinvent my business. The past business paradigm of reaching out, providing value, and making money is still there. Still, it is how we all undergo the changes needed in a radically different set of economic circumstances.

We all are seeing the world in a very different light, in some ways a very harsh one, where the old normals are breaking down. The change in our world is even a little scary, it actually is giving me a little “angst.” I need to put some reorder into my world.

Firstly as many of you know, I have been investing my time in growing my understanding, expertise, and thinking over three “core” topics. My Innovation intent has been central to this for twenty years, but this has ‘funneled down’ into recognizing the value of ecosystems as the business design for innovation to thrive and deliver more significant value creation. In the past two-plus years, the whole Energy Transition has been my vehicle to apply my innovation learning and ecosystem thinking.

We must hold on to much of what we have, but we really will be forced to abandon so much of our accepted norm.

My search or questioning is not about abandoning what I have invested over these years, it is how can I redirect it. To shift its position to actively contribute in new ways, to adapt and adjust to the ‘new normal’ we all must seriously recognize is coming towards us.

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The immediate shift in work and social norms needs innovation

Being in a personal crisis is one thing, but being in a global one is a whole lot different. So much is totally out of your control. You can rant and rave at some of the decisions have been made, or likely to come on some current performances.

Often you are left wondering where the insights or collective thinking was trying to offset the events that were unprecedented and scary but have now put us into such a massive economic downturn.

The decision to throw a protective shield around our health systems made sense, but the human suffering unfolding is going to be very tough on those that made these decisions, as it is to nearly everyone else. Facing this economic collapse is mindblowing.

We all are coming to grips with what this means in our working lives. We are in for immediate shifts in our working environment as we emerge from “lockdown.”

Innovation is going to become central to overcoming huge global problems of keeping our distance, inventing, and implementing the solutions to keep our “social distance” and know we are safe or not..

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