New IRENA report outlines a series of innovation priorities that policymakers must address to successfully decarbonise the energy system with renewables

The transformation of the global energy system is already well underway, but policymakers must refocus their attention on a new set of innovation priorities if we are to successfully electrify and decarbonise in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

That was IRENA’s message delivered to decision makers and attendees of the Third Mission Innovation Ministerial (MI-3) Forum in Malmö, Sweden on 23 May 2018.

MI-3 is a global clean energy innovation stocktake. Bringing together the initiative’s 22 countries, the European Commission and high-level representatives from the business and research community to analyse and gauge the energy transformation progress in the age of renewables, MI seeks to reinvigorate and accelerate action by stimulating public-private investment into breakthrough ideas.

For IRENA, it was an opportunity to shape the conversation by sharing a series of recommendations on the policy measures necessary to spur renewable energy innovation.

“Technology innovation has been and will continue to be a critical enabler of progress, but innovation priorities need to be refreshed to address the new challenges of integrating high shares of renewable power and electrifying the end-use sectors of transport, industry and buildings,” says Dolf Gielen, director of innovation and technology at IRENA.

“To do this, innovation needs to go beyond technological research, development and demonstration, with improved technology being accompanied by and integrated with innovations in business models, policies, processes and market design,” Gielen adds.

Drawing on IRENA’s analytical studies and reports, Innovation Priorities to Transform the Energy System provides policymakers with a high-level overview of the key action areas that can increase the speed of innovation in support of a global shift towards a renewables-powered energy system.

Innovation Priorities describes the status of the ongoing transformation of the global energy system and discusses the role of government support for innovation — which is crucial to enabling all stages of the innovation journey.

IRENA’s brief highlights that pledges to boost public sector spending on clean energy innovation needs to be delivered and then investment sustained or increased, and that boosting private sector investment will require fresh thinking and co-ordinated action.

The brief sets priorities for increased government action and international co-operation, suggesting that more support and stronger international collaboration can accelerate innovation in the integration and operation of the energy system, industrial processes, and in transport.