Global collaboration could save $550bn on clean energy deployment

The cost of worldwide clean energy technology deployments could be reduced by up to $550bn over the next 10 years if countries adopted global collaboration as a means of accelerating innovation, a new report has found.

The United Innovations report, published by the Carbon Trust, estimates that most of the technologies needed to complete the transition to a low carbon energy system already exist, but that costs need to be reduced in order to meet 2050 climate targets.

Current Carbon Trust analysis estimates that $5trn is needed in order to deploy low carbon technology by 2025. This figure could be reduced by more than $550bn if countries work together strategically to deploy current technologies and develop new innovations.

Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, said: “Transitioning to a low carbon energy system is beyond the capability of any single country. Climate change is a global problem that needs global solutions.

“We are seeing unprecedented levels of commitment from COP21 in Paris, but to ensure we keep to a two-degree scenario the road through Paris cannot only be paved with good intentions.

“We need action, we need more of it and we need it now. We cannot afford to wait any longer. The technological foundations of the transition to a low carbon energy system must be laid in the next 10 years.”

The report notes that the contributions of the private sector remain essential but will fail to gain any traction without national programme incorporation. The report includes five technologies which the Carbon Trust believes to be catalysts in unlocking global collaboration.

Carbon collaborations

It adds that new developments in marine energy, smart grids and electricity networks, offshore wind, energy storage and carbon capture and storage (CCS) promoted through global collaboration would provide huge economic benefits for the countries involved. This mention of CCS comes just a week after the UK Government’s Autumn Statement and Spending Review, which saw the £1bn CCS competition fund closed as a result of budget cuts to DECC.

While the UK’s clean technology plan remains murky, globally the idea of collaboration has been given a huge boost. Yesterday, Bill Gates announced he was teaming up with some of the world’s most powerful businessmen, including Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson, to launch the Breakthrough Energy Coalition aimed at creating affordable and reliable clean energy for the entire planet.

Emerging markets

The Carbon Trust report also highlights that developing countries would represent 90% of the growth in future technology consumption in the next 35 years. Only through working with developed countries and acting as ‘active participants’ will these countries meet this percentage.

A report released last week showed that emerging markets attracted more clean energy investment than wealthy countries for the first time ever in 2014, a sign that developing countries are on track to meet the 90% target.


As part of a new series of blogs on edie, experts from the Carbon Trust explore some of the areas of opportunity to accelerate action and increase ambitions, overcoming the barriers to creating a sustainable, low-carbon economy. You can read the blogs here.

Matt Mace

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