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Blog Posts: innovation

  • For Clean Energy, Taking Risks to Reap Rewards

    This post originally appeared in the National Journal Energy & Environment Expert Blog. The question was, “Where Can Government Energy R&D Have Most Impact?”

    Innovation in breakthrough energy technologies is notoriously challenging, despite having potentially large rewards. Individual innovations are embedded in larger systems where change is very hard. These innovations often carry significant capital costs to demonstrate, commercialize, or reach economies of scale. Unlike the latest cell phone, consumers are often unwilling to pay more for a new energy innovation, especially when the rewards are in the future.

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  • 2012: A Breakthrough for Renewable Energy?

    This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

    In his annual State of the Union address, President Obama declared: “I will not walk away from clean energy.”

    His words were a sharp rebuttal to critics harping on the Solyndra bankruptcy and others making dire predictions about the downfall of the renewable energy industry.

    So, who is right? Will 2012 be a breakthrough year for renewable, or will it collapse?

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  • Reflections on COP 17 in Durban

    Written with analysis from Athena Ballesteros, Louise Brown, Florence Daviet, Crystal Davis, Aarjan Dixit, Kelly Levin, Heather McGray, Remi Moncel, Clifford Polycarp, Kirsten Stasio, Fred Stolle, and Lutz Weischer

    Jennifer Morgan, Edward Cameron, and our team of climate experts look back on the key decisions from Durban and give a first take on their implications for global efforts to tackle climate change.

    As weary negotiators return home from the marathon United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks in Durban, South Africa, opinion is divided on the deal that was struck.

    Some believe the package – consisting of a new “Durban Platform” to negotiate the long-term future of the regime, a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, and an array of decisions designed to implement the Cancun agreements – represents a significant step forward and cause for hope. Others are more cautious, viewing these outputs as insufficient in ambition, content, and timing to tackle the far-reaching threat of climate change.

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  • Mining Megatrends for Innovation: Making a case for bolder action in a changing climate

    This article is one in a series of updates WRI’s Next Practice research team is sharing about its ongoing work with business to develop tools and guidance for sustainability strategies. It builds on themes introduced here and here with examples of how companies are currently acting on megatrends. It also appears on the Corporate EcoForum's EcoInnovator blog.

    Long-term, large-scale trends like population growth, resource constraints, and climate change are reshaping buyers’ needs and business practices. These big shifts and other “megatrends” are creating major risks (think: geopolitical unrest) and opportunities (think: clean technology innovations).

    WRI is working with partners in the private sector to make a compelling case for next practices — innovations that will help solve urgent challenges, like global climate change. In doing so, we can draw several lessons from how companies approach megatrends today.

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  • Fact Sheet: The Power of Innovation: Meeting our Energy Challenges through Accelerated Innovation

    Innovation can close the gap between the low-carbon technologies of today and the low-cost, high performance technologies the world needs.

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  • Want Low-Cost Clean Energy? Bank on Innovation

    In the United States, there is a heated debate about how much government should support renewable energy innovation. While you won’t find anyone who says they don’t value ‘innovation’, the U.S. federal investment in energy innovation across both fossil and renewable technology is still anemic, badly trailing China and only about one third of the amount recommended by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. That’s unfortunate, because there are compelling reasons to accelerate innovation in the energy sector, and specifically in renewable energy.

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  • Filling the Sustainability Innovation Gap

    This post originally appeared on the Corporate Eco Forum's Ecoinnovator blog.

    Tomorrow’s leading companies will be those that pioneer innovative solutions to match climate change challenges. Today, this is largely uncharted territory; current best practices often focus on incremental product improvements (e.g., cars with moderate fuel efficiency gains) or are limited by existing business models (e.g., facility upgrades with high first costs). This type of change is not sufficient to achieve the 80 to 95 percent reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions the science tells us we need by mid-century.

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  • Climate Week Highlights Need for Accelerated Innovation in Clean Technology

    This piece was written with Pablo Torres, Intern at the World Resources Institute.

    During Climate Week 2011, business, government, non-profit, and civil society leaders from around the world are convening in New York City to drive a ‘clean energy revolution’. Not surprisingly, innovation in clean technologies is a common theme among many of the events.

    In most models of a low-carbon future, innovation is assumed to occur and to reduce costs over time.[^1] There has been less focus on how to ensure this innovation takes place and is most effective. That is the focus of WRI’s new working paper, Two Degrees of Innovation: How to Seize the Opportunities in Low-Carbon Power.

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  • Seizing Economic Opportunities in the Low-Carbon Power Sector

    This post was written with Pablo Torres, an intern with the Two Degrees of Innovation project.

    In these turbulent economic times, leaders around the world are looking to strengthen their economies and create jobs. They are grappling with how to effectively capitalize on the green economy to drive growth. In a new WRI working paper, we look at ways that policymakers can create new green jobs through investments in innovation to meet our challenges in the power sector.

    Building the capacity to innovate is a key competitiveness strategy. Successfully competing in the growing low-carbon power sector is no different. However, innovation—improvements in cost and performance—can also close the gap between the low-carbon technologies of today and the low-cost, high-performance technologies the world needs. Policymakers have a crucial role to play in supporting innovators and creating a dynamic innovation ecosystem where they can thrive.

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