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.

Continue reading

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

Understanding the Innovation Landscape needed for Enabling Technologies in the World’s Energy Transition

During this September to November 2019 period, I deliberately chose to have a 100% focus on the energy transition that the world is committing to as an undertaking, of reversing the rising global climate temperatures through a shift from fossil fuels to increasing commitments to renewables.

Renewables that give us greater sustainability and clean energy and dramatic reductions in carbon emissions.

I wrote twelve dedicated posts over this period, including this one, to highlight the important place innovation has within the energy transition that we are undertaking. View all the opening introductions on the “home page” and scroll down.

To have any chance to reverse these temperature rises there is an increasing emphasis on innovation solutions within the technology that is required for the Worlds energy system. Solutions are needed to shift from the world’s present reliance on fossil fuels to renewable cleaner fuels to stop the growing pollution and harmful effects of greenhouse gases (GHG) that carbon-emitting fossil fuels are causing to our planet and giving us global warming issues that are deeply worrying.

I drew down on many different resources to get my more in-depth understanding of an area that is partly passion and partly a business focus, but one resource has stood out for their detailed work on innovation and the energy sector’s needs. Continue reading

The Hard-to-Abate sectors need innovation solutions to reach Net-Zero Co2 Emissions

I have been looking at those Hard-to-Abate sectors for reaching Net-Zero Co2 Emissions like the cement, steel, plastics, aviation, shipping, and heavy road transport within our need for a global energy transition. These are the really big carbon emitters and it is argued that they could achieve, using known technologies already under development a pathway to complete carbonization over the next decades. It is going to require significant public policy will and private investment to drive both the present incremental solutions and push for the breakthrough ones. Innovation is really needed here.

There are six innovation areas of electrification, hydrogen, biochemistry and synthetic chemistry, material efficiency and circularity, alongside new materials and the ability to carbon capture and carbon use that need to have innovative solutions. Working on the innovations within these six critical areas does have a real chance of fully decarbonizing these harder-to abate sctors of the world’s economy.

Yet, let’s step back just a little and get some clarifications out of the way. They help frame this story.

In understanding the energy transition that is well underway, there are many companies and countries all proudly claiming dates for achieving their carbon neutral targets. Most of these centers around 2030, but where I keep coming back to is the discussions around Net-Zero carbon emissions. Is this a mission impossible? For me, all I hear about are the cities and companies all proudly announcing their target goals for achieving carbon-neutral, yet is this good enough in this rapidly warming world? I think not. Continue reading

The Digitalization of Energy

We are on the cusp of a new digital era in energy. Digital technology has been involved in the energy system for decades.

What is new, is the pace of digitalization occurring through technological innovation, providing solutions that enable the energy system to be transformed?

Digitalization across the energy landscape is determining the system-wide changes of connectivity; it is linking, monitoring, aggregating, and controlling assets to cause a fundamental “blurring” between who supplies and who consumes energy.

The old paradigm of central grids will undoubtedly continue to provide the energy infrastructure backbone and keep balancing the electricity transmission network, but there will be significant differences at the local level (final point of supply) to trade energy through different grid edge designs and services.

Digitalization brings us closer to the end-user – knowing your grid edge and how to respond Continue reading

Accelerating Innovation in the Energy Transition Journey

What fascinates me presently is the energy transition currently being undertaken, due to the enormous amount of innovation options being considered and applied. New technologies are changing the very nature of how energy is going to be produced and delivered over the next ten to twenty years.

When you consider how vital energy is to society anywhere in the world, you realize what a significant time this is to curb the carbonization and radically resign the system based on renewables and green electricity. It might sound obvious, but having access to energy is crucial to our daily lives; it powers everything we do. Not just in the home, in our business lives, in our ability to function, it enables us to be productive or simply “plugged-in.”

We are undergoing such a revolution that will have an impact on all of our lives. During the next ten to twenty years, we are in a race to transform our energy system, one that moves from fossil fuel reliant to clean fuels based on renewable energy. We need to decarbonize and make energy greener. Continue reading

Increasing innovation focus on the end-user segments within the energy transition story

When you investigate and research the energy transition that is underway, the higher focus to date has been on the progress to replace fossil fuel with renewable power generation technologies. As crucial renewable energy solutions (wind, solar) are falling in price comparison, we are beginning to see clean energy solutions for industry, for the environment, and society, as a whole. Energy transition and moving to renewable power generation, though, it is not happening fast enough.

We need to focus more on the active implementation of renewable energy solutions sooner than later. We are in an increasing race to work towards achievable goals to reduce global warming in the very ambitious time scales of the UN Paris climate agreement in 2016. This comprehensive agreement is to keep the global average temperature rise remaining below the two-degree Celsius agreed by 2050.

Presently we are failing behind this “two-degree pathway” deemed as essential, and we are currently forecasted to release more carbon and gases into the atmosphere, and that has severe repercussions for our planet.  Governments will need to introduce more substantive policies to meet the emission targets they signed up too and society, industry and us, as individuals will have to undergo adjustments to accommodate this in our habits, consumption, and usage.

It is not just replacing energy sources; it is all about solution renewal end-to-end Continue reading