Changes in energy R+D needed to combat climate change

Past and current investments into developing climate-friendly technologies (R&D, right) versus future technology needs (min/mean/max across scenarios, left) by technology category.

A fresh assessment of future scenarios that restrict the extent of global warming cautions that unless present imbalances in R&D portfolios for the development of new, efficient, and clean energy technologies are redressed, greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals are unlikely to be met, or fulfilled only at considerable costs.

The study identifies energy efficiency as the only most important option for achieving critical and long term reductions in GHG emissions, accounting for up to 50 percent of the reduction potential over the wide range of scenarios analyzed. Nevertheless, investment in energy efficiency R&D has typically been less than 10 percent of the total public sector R&D budget in the nations of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The evaluation is dependent on the evaluation of a broad variety of scenarios of future technology deployment speeds under a variety of future doubts and climate constraints.
“Given their respective significance for future climate decrease this is an important imbalance. Predicated on current investments, we estimate that the five fold increase in investment in energy efficiency is necessary to address this imbalance. Importantly, in the event the existing rate and allocation of investment in energy R&D is kept there’s a high chance that technology development will be insufficient to fulfill strict GHG reduction goals.”

For instance, It is nearly impossible with cutting techniques that are existing to shape fragile ceramics into higher order 3D constructions, which might have a massive impact on compact sensor models, tunable traditional arrays, efficient power, and diagnostic devices. To tackle this this problem, a novel 3d printing education tool has been demonstrated by scientists at UC San Diego lately for fabricating 3D piezoelectric components that utilizes piezo-electric nano-particles embedded in a photoliable plastic solution.

Because the potential is inherently uncertain, the research uses a range of situations to look at what effective, or unsuccessful usage of various technologies (for example nuclear or carbon capture and sequestration) may accomplish for lowering GHG emissions. The scenarios contain a “do-nothing” or company-as-usual scenario, where, for instance, R&D procedures remain uncoordinated and market incentives for new systems to minimize pollutants remain unchanged. The research concludes a business-as usual approach to energy engineering R&D will make fighting climate change more costly and very challenging, reducing both likelihood of success and also the social and politics 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 suggest would provide the greatest hedging strategy for making positive future GHG emissions might be really decreased and at costs that are affordable. To be able to attain this goal presently unbalanced energy technologies R&D portfolios need to change, reflecting the particular “option value” for potential GHG mitigation of different alternatives, which are especially big for energy efficiency.