The report assesses the ways in which clean energy innovation can be significantly accelerated to achieve net-zero emissions while improving energy security in time to meet international climate and sustainable energy goals.
It concludes that without a major acceleration in clean energy innovation, countries and companies around the world will be unable to fulfil their pledges to bring their carbon emissions down to net-zero in the coming decades.
It calls on governments to take the initial investment risk in large-scale demonstrators that present a high-cost barrier to scale-up. Technologies like new nuclear designs, CCUS (carbon capture, usage and storage) for industrial facilities, fossil fuel-free iron and steel processes, and floating offshore wind all face high capital costs for the first commercial projects.
These projects have the highest costs and risks, buy subsequent entrants benefit from early experience. “This provides a rationale for direct government investment in this phase of development, in tandem with action to create more market value for products such as low-carbon steel,” the report says.
“Public funding for such projects could be conditional on the learnings from the projects being widely shared.”
The report says work is needed “across borders” to ensure that no essential technology areas remain underfunded because of high development risks that cannot be borne by one country.
“Pooling of innovation resources in this way is rare, but not without precedent, as the size of the budgets for EU energy R&D and cross-border nuclear fusion campaigns attest.”
The report also calls for lifetime extensions for nuclear power plants. In a position paper published earlier this week the London-based World Nuclear Association said more governments must introduce policies to support the long-term operation of nuclear plants with market reforms brought in to value the “non-power” benefits of nuclear alongside other clean energy technologies.
The nuclear energy industry has repeatedly said LTO can help countries achieve their climate goals at an affordable cost while also reducing energy import dependency.
A recent report by the International Energy Agency said the European Union needs to offer more support for nuclear power with the bloc facing the largest fleet decline across advanced economies and the possibility that the share of nuclear in the electricity mix could fall from 25% in 2017 to 5% in 2040.
In a report last month the IEA said the European Union needs to offer more support for nuclear power with the bloc facing the largest fleet decline across advanced economies and the possibility that the share of nuclear in the electricity mix could fall from 25% in 2017 to 5% in 2040.
That report, which reviewed energy policies in the European Union, said the EU should support a broader spectrum of research, development and demonstration on advanced nuclear concepts and small modular reactors, including for heat production for industrial uses and cogeneration.
It called for the integration of flexible nuclear and renewable sources and progress towards harmonisation and standardisation. It said there is a need for the development of common approaches for licensing.