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We are badly falling behind on our invention in technology for the Energy Transition

image credit: paul4innovating adapted
Paul Hobcraft's picture
Innovation & Energy Knowledge Provider Agility Innovation

I work as a transition advocate for innovation, ecosystems, within IIoT, and the energy system as my points of focus. I relate content to context to give greater knowledge and build the...

  • Member since 2020
  • 139 items added with 65,919 views
  • Nov 18, 2021

No energy transition will be achieved without invention and innovation,  yet we are failing badly at present to fund research, development and deployment. We are losing the race to stop our planet warming as our innovative human endeavours are not at the level they should be, or we simply lack the “will” to make the changes we so desperately need to undergo to protect our planet.

My focus continues to get deeper and deeper into the Energy Transition from my innovation perspective, it is highly critical to our future.

I provide different perspectives and thinking, firstly on my for my offerings of service and a dedicated posting site for energy,  that provides a decent mix of thought leadership, news and awareness, for the Energy Transition.

Do visit these sites if you are curious and want to understand more about the Energy Transition we are all undergoing (really all of us in the World). Also, I can only encourage you to get in touch to see if we have areas of some collaboration opportunities.

So let me get back to what this post is about, providing critical reference points on technologies we need to improve and innovate.

One really rich reference site is the Internation Energy Agency, the IEA who provide some incredible, in-depth knowledge for “Shaping a secure and sustainable energy future for all.”

On their extensive site, they provide constant updates. This site is primarily a place I go back and constantly check when it comes to the progress on the technologies that need to be researched, developed and deployed.

Having the insights and their knowledge helps knowing if we are on track and going to be successful in transforming our Energy Systems. And make the dramatic contribution level for us to achieve the net-zero pathway we need to have in place by 2050.


Let me briefly reference different sections of the IEA website

Technology collaboration, here the intent is to advance the research, development and commercialisation of energy technologies. In summary:

The Technology Collaboration Programme supports the work of independent, international groups of experts that enable governments and industries worldwide to lead programmes and projects on a wide range of energy technologies and related issues.

The experts in these collaborations work to advance the research, development and commercialisation of energy technologies. The scope and strategy of each partnership are in keeping with the IEA Shared Goals of energy security, environmental protection and economic growth, and engagement worldwide.

The breadth of the analytical expertise in the Technology Collaboration Programme is a unique asset to the global transition to a cleaner energy future.

These collaborations involve over 6 000 experts worldwide who represent nearly 300 public and private organisations located in 55 countries, including many from IEA Association countries such as China, India and Brazil.

Understanding the opportunities and challenges that come with different new and emerging clean energy technologies is central for improved energy and environmental policymaking, and one of the very best reference sites is the for offering a range of unique analyses on “all things energy”.

The IEA Areas of Work

If you explore the IEA’s “areas of work page“, this provided by the Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) has contributed to global energy and environmental policymaking for more than a decade.

In this work, I pick up regularly the Clean Energy Transitions Indicators.

Here the value is monitoring progress that is essential to achieving climate and sustainable development goals. However, it is also vital to know where we are starting our voyage. The IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario lays out the narrow but achievable pathway to net zero emissions by mid-century. We all need to reach that goal, but not every country will do it in the same way – a reflection of the structure of each economy, its legacy energy mix, and other factors such as climate and geography.

Then we have  The ETP Clean Energy Technology Guide is an interactive framework that contains information for over 400 individual technology designs and components across the whole energy system that contribute to achieving the goal of net-zero emissions.

Each of these technologies includes information on the level of maturity and a compilation of development and deployment plans, as well as cost and performance improvement targets and leading players in the field.

You can choose a sector to explore progress in very considerable detail related to Buildings, Energy Transformation, Transport, CO2 infrastructure ad Industry to explore facts, data and detailed reports.

The IEA also provide a Clean Energy Transition Annual Report.

Since the Clean Energy Transitions Programme (CETP) launch in late 2017, the IEA has significantly expanded its work to help accelerate energy transitions in major emerging economies. The CETP plays a critical role in supporting clean energy transitions, putting sustainable development at the heart of economic recovery measures and further strengthening the IEA family.

The CETP Annual Report 2020 highlights the programme’s main activities, presenting significant outcomes and areas for further work and planned activities for 2021. It also summarises IEA activities related to clean energy transitions globally and introduces new and innovative analyses and resources produced throughout the year.

The report initially provides an overview of the CETP’s objectives, then presents highlights of activities and achievements for each priority country (Brazil, the People’s Republic of China. India, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa), each priority region (Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia), and globally.

Trends across technologies, go to this link.

Over the past 40 years, investment by IEA member countries in energy RD&D has become progressively more diverse. Nuclear power, which accounted for 75% of the total in 1974, declined every year to 21% in 2020. RD&D budgets on fossil fuels, which were at their highest in the 1980s and early 1990s, have declined since 2013 (13%) to 7% in 2020.

Budgets for energy efficiency and renewables expanded significantly faster during the 1990s and 2000s, from 7% each in 1990 to 23% and 21% respectively in 2010. Since then, the share of energy efficiency has increased slightly to reach 26%, whilst the share of renewables has declined to 15%. Budgets for hydrogen and fuel cells maintained their share at 3% for 2012-2018 to increase to 4% in 2019 and 2020.

One final point of reference for me is the Energy Technology RD&D Budgets: Overview Page.

The Energy Technology RD&D budgets database includes data on budgets in national currencies (in nominal and real prices), in USD (at latest year prices and exchange rates), in USD (at latest year prices and PPP) and in Euro (at latest year prices and exchange rates).

Also, the database shows RD&D budgets and calculating indicators. The government energy technology RD&D budgets are submitted on an annual questionnaire every year to the IEA Secretariat to compile yearly reports.

The stark facts – where we are.

Clean energy technologies need a significant boost to keep net-zero by 2050 within reach.

The International Energy Agency’s latest and most comprehensive assessment of clean energy technology progress worldwide shows that a step-change in action and ambition is needed across all energy technologies and sectors to keep the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 within reach.

Of the 46 energy technologies and sectors assessed in the IEA’s latest edition of Tracking Clean Energy Progress (TCEP), only two are on track with the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.

These latest findings follow IEA analysis showing that global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are set for their second-largest increase in history in 2021, while clean energy accounts for just 3% of global economic recovery spending to date.

In total, 18 technology areas need further improvements, while 26 are “not on track” with the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.

Tracking Clean Energy Progress provides the assessment of critical energy technologies for global clean energy transitions.

Let’s show these focus areas in a pictorial of each of the technologies or fuels.

Go to the following link to explore EACH technology sector or fuel

The Energy Transition is a highly complex one. Innovation transformations are central. I can only repeat the 46 energy technologies and sectors assessed in the IEA’s latest edition of Tracking Clean Energy Progress (TCEP) that Only two are on track with the IEA’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.

That is shocking and needs radically changing. Have we the urgency, will and determination to save our planet by our innovating abilities?


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Paul Hobcraft's picture
Thank Paul for the Post!
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