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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?

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.

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.

This piece originally appeared on the National Journal Energy and Environment Experts Blog.

The case of the solar company Solyndra has been getting widespread attention, but much of the current discussion misses the point. While some would like to portray the collapse of this company as the downfall of the U.S. solar industry, the larger picture tells a very different story.

Solar power is rapidly expanding around the world, driven by opportunities for innovation and investment in low-carbon energy. According to the International Energy Agency, solar power is on a path to provide 20-25 percent of the world’s electric power by 2050. This is a huge market opportunity. And, a recent report by Ernst & Young confirms that the solar energy market has grown from less than $1 billion in 2000 to $79 billion in 2010.

Looking for the innovations that can help developing countries achieve a low-carbon energy future, at an affordable cost.

At this week’s Asia Clean Energy Forum, policymakers, private sector firms, and non-governmental organizations will discuss how Asian countries can transform their power sectors while meeting development needs.

One topic on the agenda will be innovation: new approaches to bring down the cost and improve the performance of low-carbon energy technologies.

When it comes to changing the way we use energy, cities are at the center of the action.

On June 2nd, I had the pleasure of speaking at the C40 Summit in São Paulo, Brazil. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group consists of iconic cities from around the world committed to addressing climate change. Chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the group has recently joined forces with the Clinton Climate Initiative’s Cities Program. Together, this partnership can have meaningful role in the fight against climate change.

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