An unprecedented push for low-carbon energy innovation

Jun 6, 2016

In May 2016, ahead of the 7th Clean Energy Ministerial and the inaugural Mission Innovation Ministerial, Near Zero gathered perspectives from experts in Mission Innovation countries to explore opportunities for further low-carbon energy R&D. Mission Innovation’s unprecedented cooperative effort could raise governmental spending on low-carbon energy R&D to an all-time high and provide a stream of sustained innovations.

Governmental spending on low-carbon R&D

Government investment in energy R&D 1960 to 2014, with possible increases under Mission Innovation

To ensure that low-carbon energy sources continue growing rapidly with the aim of cutting energy-sector greenhouse gas emissions to near-zero, governments around the world have been focused on two major efforts: a “push” from innovation that helps make low-carbon energy cheaper and more versatile, and a “pull” from policies and market design that encourage the commercial scale-up of low-carbon energy.

In November 2015, a diverse set of 20 nations signed Mission Innovation’s joint statement that pledged: “Each participating country will seek to double its governmental and/or state-directed clean energy research and development investment over five years.”

Near Zero invited experts worldwide to submit examples of R&D efforts that could help achieve Mission Innovation’s goals. Forty-five experts participated, and this report presents a selection from their responses, focused on four areas: solar power, greening the grid, decarbonizing gas, and energy efficiency. Full responses are presented in a supplementary report.

To support nations around the world—in particular members of the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation—in discussions of future energy R&D budgets, more interaction is needed between experts in academia, industry, government, and civil society. Structured expert elicitation and discussion can help governments identify the best opportunities and most pressing challenges for future energy research.

a Near Zero white paper

Mason Inman *, Daniel L. Sanchez *†, Michael D. Mastrandrea *†, Steven J. Davis *§, Karen Fries *

* Near Zero

† Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Global Ecology

§ University of California, Irvine, Department of Earth System Science

Expert participants

45 experts participated in the elicitation for this report:

Alfredo Bermudez

Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, Mexico

Almo Pradana

World Resources Institute (WRI), Indonesia

Amitav Rath

Policy Research International, Canada

Anand Patwardhan

University of Maryland, United States

Anshu Bharadwaj

Center for the Study of Science, Technology & Policy, India

Antonina Ivanova Boncheva

Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, Mexico

Asgeir Tomasgard

Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU), Norway

Birte Holst Jørgensen

Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark

David Popp

Syracuse University, United States

David Victor

University of California, San Diego (UCSD), United States

Emilio Lèbre La Rovere

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil

Frank Jotzo

Australian National University, Australia

Gerardo Hiriart Le Bert

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico

Helena Chum

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), United States

Ian Bryden

University of the Highlands and Islands, United Kingdom

Jacob Østergaard

Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark

Jeffrey Logan

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), United States

Jiahua Pan

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China

Jim Watson

University of Sussex, United Kingdom

Jinyue Yan

Mälardalen University and Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden

José María Valenzuela

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Mexico

Joyashree Roy

Jadavpur University, India

Kaoru Yamaguchi

Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ), Japan

Karin Ericsson

Lund University, Sweden

Kathryn Janda

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Keigo Akimoto

Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth, Japan

Lars J. Nilsson

Lund University, Sweden

Lena Neij

Lund University, Sweden

Lennart Söder

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden

Mark Diesendorf

University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia

Mikiko Kainuma

National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Japan

Nilay Shah

Imperial College London, United Kingdom

Oswaldo Lucon

University of São Paulo, Brazil

Peter Cook

University of Melbourne, Australia

Peter Newman

Curtin University, Australia

Poul Erik Morthorst

Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark

Rahul Walawalkar

Customized Energy Solutions, India

Rodrigo Palma

University of Chile, Chile

Sergio Trindade

Independent Consultant, United States

Shunsuke Managi

Kyushu University, Japan

Søren Linderoth

Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark

Taishi Sugiyama

Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI), Japan

Waleed Salman

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, United Arab Emirates

Youngah Park

Korean Institute for Science and Technology Evaluation and Planning (KISTEP), Republic of Korea

Yuyun Ismawati

BaliFokus, Indonesia

photo credit: NASA