Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Changes in energy R&D needed to combat climate change, experts say

Date:
October 25, 2010
Source:
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Summary:
A new assessment of future scenarios that limit the extent of global warming cautions that unless current imbalances in research and development portfolios for the development of new, efficient, and clean energy technologies are redressed, greenhouse gas emission reduction targets are unlikely to be met, or met only at considerable costs.

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, 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.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Arnulf Grubler‌, Keywan Riahi‌. Do governments have the right mix in their energy R&D portfolios? Carbon Management, 2010; 1 (1): 79-87 [link]

Cite This Page:

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN's Ban: Climate Change 'defining Issue of Our Time'

UN's Ban: Climate Change 'defining Issue of Our Time'

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 21, 2014) United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marches with hundreds of thousands of people in New York for the international day of action on climate change. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins