Coordinating energy research for a low carbon Europe
How can we make Mission Innovation happen and accelerate its pace towards the goals set up for 2021? The EERA/DTU joint event “Mission Innovation Challenges accepted – what’s next”, organized in the context of the Nordic Clean Energy Week on May 24 in Copenhagen, looked at the status and progress of Mission Innovation, now half-way through its duration. There is no doubt of the essential role of international cooperation to progress on clean energy innovation globally. But are the actions we are taking today leading to where we want? And what will happen, after 2021?
“First of all, we need excellent research”, said Nils Røkke, EERA Chairman. “We need to involve industry at early stage in the process, so that good research ideas can be adequately supported and matured into innovation. We see this happening already in Centers of Excellence, and we could bring these experiences on a global scale.”
Patrick Child, Deputy Director-General at DG Research & Innovation (European Commission), gave some good news, after the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting on May 23: all countries involved in Mission Innovation have confirmed their commitment to doubling their spending on clean energy R&D over five years; Austria has joined the group of MI countries and Morocco will be the first African country to join; the number of success stories, specific projects and joint research activities across MI countries are growing; an eight innovation challenge on hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells will be launched; partnership agreements with IRENA and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have been signed. Yet, despite the progress, there is still the need to work hard to accelerate MI, strengthen public-private cooperation and find ways to work more effectively with the industry.
What mechanisms can we implement, or start, to make it possible? “We need a business case to mitigate climate change, and instruments to support public-private partnerships. It is urgent to get real cooperation amongst all stakeholders – governments, industry, research, consumers – up and running. We need continuous effort and investing in the right vehicles and instruments to make it happen”, added Nils Røkke.
The “what´s next?” is also about collaboration across Mission Innovation challenges, overcoming silos, and thinking already beyond 2021. “Our challenge will not stop in 2021. We need to keep the momentum, we need to keep up the pace and continue after these initial five years of Mission Innovation”, said Katrine Krogh Andersen, DTU Dean of Research.
Having a global fund to support clean energy innovation would give impetus, but this option – if pursued – would take a long time. For now, we need to rely on existing instruments, build on the European experience of working together and link Mission Innovation with the current and future European funding landscape, including the next EU Framework Programme for R&I. In this respect, the SET-Plan can give inspiration as a model of cooperation. Being the research pillar of the SET-Plan, and already involved in four out of seven Innovation Challenges, EERA can contribute to developing the necessary R&D needed to make it possible.
The event was also the opportunity to present and discuss the DTU International Energy Report 2018, which provides a scientific perspective to the Mission Innovation Challenges, with the addition of energy storage.