Research, Development, Demonstration, Deployment and Diffusion
Reducing emissions by 60-80 percent of 1990 levels in a cost effective manner will require a great technology revolution.  Solar, wind, biomass, nuclear, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage technologies need additional breakthroughs that will only be made possible with the infusion of public funds.  Rates of investment in both public- and private-sector energy research and development are lower than other industries, and have steadily declined for twenty years.  Substantial increases in R&D investment—by up to 500 percent of current levels—are essential.

The deployment phase often requires considerably more resources than the R&D phase. The private sector is best equipped to make incremental improvements in the deployment/diffusion phases that can help reduce costs. For technologies that are already commercial, the private sector again can best tailor on-going R&D to the market’s needs. Innovative public-private partnerships are required to get the private sector to invest more in post-R&D phases of energy technologies. The Stern Review recommended that the scale of existing deployment incentives worldwide should be increased by 2-5 times from the current level of $34 billion per year to $68-170 billion per year.

Some have proposed the formation of a “Consultative Group on Clean Energy” which would facilitate international collaboration on the development of more efficient, cleaner, and lower-cost technologies and the exchange of information about these technologies. Examples of large-scale international collaborations include nuclear fusion research (ITER), the international space station, and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Others have proposed the establishment of a global research fund with contributions largely from the developed countries. This fund could support energy technology research programmes of developing countries and would be empowered, for example, to buy patents.

Questions for GLCA:

-What should be done to increase investments in and collaboration on research, development, and deployment of cleaner and lower-cost technologies? Is it feasible to seek an investment of $200 billion per year in energy R&D and deployment, as recommended by the Stern Review?

-Are the creations of a Consultative Group on Clean Energy and/or a Fund for Energy Research feasible ideas?

-Should countries that invest in lowering the cost of a clean technology receive credit towards their emission reduction target?

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