The energy transition involves the accelerated deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency. This requires systemic innovation, matching and leveraging synergies in innovations across all sectors and components of the system, and involving all actors. It includes innovations in information technology, policy frameworks, market design, business models, finance instruments, enabling infrastructure and sector coupling. Improved processes, research, development and deployment (RD&D) systems and cooperation networks are essential to overcome the barriers to a zero-carbon energy sector.
To foster cooperation networks, IRENA organised the Innovation Week, a first-of-its-kind event, gathering industrial and political frontrunners to present, discuss and explore innovative solutions under the theme, ‘The Age of Renewable Power’.
The focus of discussions was on how innovations in technology, operations and policy, regulation and business, interact and re-enforce each other, contributing to power system transformation.
Technological breakthroughs are needed to reduce carbon emissions in the energy sector. Even with economically viable and scalable renewable-based solutions available for around two-thirds of the world’s energy supply, population growth and rising energy demand could outpace energy decarbonisation without urgent investments in research and development (R&D). Successful innovation should encompass the complete technology lifecycle. The policy framework for innovation, similarly, must provide balanced support, addressing both technologies themselves and factors beyond technology, including system operations, market design and regulations, and the enabling infrastructure to scale up renewables.
Countries can use the “RETIP” process to design appropriate innovation strategies for renewable energy technologies. RETIP is a seven-step process that provides a platform for structuring policy development. Beyond strengthening innovation policy, the RETIP process helps to clarify areas where IRENA may be able to provide assistance. IRENA can assist countries, upon request, to choose assessment methods, identify key sectors and appropriate strategies, create coordinated policy portfolios, and define roles and responsibilities for implementation.