Today’s energy system, the cornerstone of prosperity for over a century, is operating at too high an environmental and economic cost, and is still failing to reach 1 billion people on the planet. Unlocking innovation today is urgently required if we expect most effectively decarbonise energy systems and provide everyone with energy access.
Renewable energy has been part of our energy mix for over a century, but digital, technical, social and financial innovation are changing how we buy, produce and consume electricity, and making it possible to achieve 100 per cent renewable power. Traditional "command and control" hierarchy in current energy markets is already being disrupted by decentralised intermittent renewables and 'prosumers' who now produce as well as consume electricity. This trend is unlocking new ‘flexibility’ in the demand-side of energy: we can now store energy, or automatically shift consumption patterns to match renewable generation.
Embracing energy innovation today will make our energy system more resilient tomorrow. The world is more complex and interconnected than ever before; what happens in one part of the world can impact far-away economies. Severe weather events and local power outages disrupting critical infrastructure can cause political or economic instability.
Supporting energy innovation means we can tackle climate change. Bloomberg New Energy Finance finds that even with 60 per cent renewables by 2030, we are reaching dangerous levels of climate change within the next decade. We need to accelerate the pace of adoption of renewables by enabling innovation not only in energy supply technologies, but in energy demand and storage as well.
They come from digital tech, manufacturing and financial sectors. They face closed markets that have been designed around the energy companies of the past. To succeed, they need to build their ecosystem partners to deliver their solutions and quickly find the right people who will become their customers.
They are market leaders - states, cities, companies - committed to being part of the solution to climate change who need to rapidly access and deploy innovative solutions.
In 2016, we ran the global Energy Productivity Innovation Challenge (EPIC) and sourced 100 companies that are part of doubling energy productivity to 2030, identified the 10 business model types that are emerging and markets where they can operate. In 2017, engaging corporate early adopters and leaders that will grow demand for these solutions. We continued working with companies in our network to advance data governance for energy and strengthen their ability to influence the emerging information value chains in energy. In 2018, we asked innovators about their 2-year agenda on energy innovation and key themes emerged: better access to granular data, data governance, flexibility of energy systems and putting decarbonisation front and centre. Since 2018, our work has focused on overcoming market barriers to flexibility and local energy systems, and city role in driving these.