Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Changes in energy R&D needed to combat climate change

26.10.2010
A new assessment of future scenarios that limit the extent of global warming cautions that unless current imbalances in R&D portfolios for the development of new, efficient, and clean energy technologies are redressed, greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets are unlikely to be met, or met only at considerable costs.

The study identifies energy efficiency as the single most important option for achieving significant and long-term reductions in GHG emissions, accounting for up to 50 percent of the reduction potential across the wide range of scenarios analyzed.

However, investment in energy efficiency R&D has typically been less than 10 percent of the overall public sector R&D budget in the countries of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Conversely, although nuclear energy accounts for less than 10 percent of the GHG emission reduction potentials across all scenarios, it has received some 50 percent of the total public investment in energy technology R&D.

The analysis, conducted by Drs' Arnulf Grubler and Keywan Riahi from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria, and published in the inaugural issue of the journal Carbon Management (2010 1(1):79-87), compared historical and current government spending on R&D by the 28 member countries of the International Energy Agency, with a "needs"-based analysis of the technologies required to achieve long-term climate stabilization. The assessment is based on the analysis of a wide range of scenarios of future technology deployment rates under a range of future uncertainties and climate constraints.

"Current investments in energy technology R&D by the public sector, in all industrialized countries, are heavily biased in favor of nuclear energy, to the detriment of energy efficiency research," says IIASA energy expert, Dr Keywan Riahi. "Given their respective importance for future climate mitigation this is a significant imbalance. Based on current investments, we estimate that a five-fold increase in investment in energy efficiency is needed to address this imbalance. Importantly, if the current rate and allocation of investment in energy R&D is maintained there is a high chance that technology development will be insufficient to meet stringent GHG reduction targets."

While technological development is critical the authors also emphasize the need for accompanying market deployment incentives for an aligned and consistent technology policy framework.

"The drastic emission cuts required to limit climate change will only be possible if we can achieve a major a transformation of the energy system," adds IIASA co-author Arnulf Grubler. "This will require the adoption of a range of policies and measures beyond an expanded and restructured energy technology R&D portfolio to include incentives for niche market applications and the large-scale deployment of climate-friendly technologies."

Because the future is inherently uncertain, the study uses a range of scenarios -22 in total - to examine what successful, or unsuccessful adoption of different technologies (such as nuclear or carbon capture and sequestration) might achieve for reducing GHG emissions. The scenarios include a "do nothing" or business-as-usual scenario, where, for example, R&D policies remain uncoordinated and market incentives for new technologies to minimize emissions remain unchanged. The study concludes that a business-as-usual approach to energy technology R&D will make combating climate change very difficult and more costly, reducing both the likelihood of success and the political and social acceptability of a transition to climate-friendly, energy-efficient technologies.

Based on the scenarios the authors outline a forward looking energy R&D 'portfolio' that they propose would provide the best hedging strategy for making sure future GHG emissions can be actually reduced and at reasonable costs. In order to achieve this goal currently unbalanced energy technology R&D portfolios need to change, reflecting the respective "option value" for future GHG mitigation of different options, which are particularly large for energy efficiency (Figure 1).

The study focused primarily on public or government-funded, R&D but the authors say the findings in terms of energy technology investment is similar to that of private sector investment, where there is a similar preference for large-scale supply-side energy technology investments, to the detriment of energy efficiency.

For more information or interviews contact:

Keywan Riahi: IIASA, Austria
Tel: +43 (0) 2236 807 491
E-mail: riahi@iiasa.ac.at
Arnulf Grubler: IIASA, Austria
Tel: +43 (0) 2236 807 470
E-mail: gruebler@iiasa.ac.at
or arnulf.grubler@yale.edu
Leane Regan: IIASA, Austria
Tel: +43 (0) 2236 807 316, Mob: +43 664 443 0368
E-mail: regan@iiasa.ac.at

Leane Regan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iiasa.ac.at

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>