IEA report on Clean Energy Innovation

Jul 2020

IEA report on Clean Energy Innovation:

The unprecedented health emergency and economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic risks to be a setback for clean energy innovation efforts at a time in which faster progress is needed. The report quantifies the needs for technology innovation and investment for a cleaner and more resilient energy sector at net-zero emissions. It identifies key technology attributes that can help accelerate innovation cycles.

The report also offers five key innovation principles for delivering net-zero emissions. It highlights issues requiring immediate attention, such as the importance of governments maintaining research and development funding at planned levels through 2025 and considering raising it in strategic areas.

The report comes with a new ETP Clean Energy Technology Guide that encompasses around 400 component technologies and identifies their stage of readiness for the market.

Some key messages:

  • There are no single or simple solutions to putting the world on a sustainable path to net-zero emissions.
  • The main routes for the energy sector to achieve net-zero emissions are well known:
    • electrification of end-use sectors;
    • the use of CO2 capture, utilisation and storage, including to remove CO2 from the atmosphere;
    • the use of low-carbon hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels;
    • and the use of bioenergy.

Each of these routes faces technology challenges to commercialise all steps of its value chain to tackle emissions in sectors that currently have no available scalable low-carbon options.

  • If governments and companies want to move more quickly towards net-zero emissions, progress on early stage technologies needs to be accelerated. Failure to accelerate progress now risks pushing the transition to net-zero emissions further into the future.