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Accelerating Clean Energy Technology Research, Development, and Deployment

by Jonathan Coony Patrick Avato

Climate change is one of the key challenges of this century. At the same time, energy use-the primary source of climate-altering global greenhouse gas emissions-is increasing at unprecedented rates and is vital to the continued economic growth of developing countries. This poses a serious dilemma that can only be reconciled with new and improved clean energy technologies that balance climate change mitigation and increased energy needs in developing countries. Despite a recent increase in investment, public and private research, development, and deployment (RD&D) funding rates are well below historical levels. In addition, significant barriers impede the ability to develop new technologies, such as the uncertain future value of CO2 emissions, intellectual property rights issues, limited incentives to commercialize technologies for developing countries, and challenges with technology transfer. These factors must be overcome to accelerate innovation in the energy sector. To introduce new thinking to address these concerns, this report examines four cases from outside the energy sector where creative approaches to RD&D have successfully overcome similar barriers. The case studies review approaches to innovation by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Advanced Market Commitments for Vaccines, the Human Genome Project, and the concept of Distributed Innovation. These case studies show how creative efforts can generate valuable public goods via: (i) international partnerships between public and private actors, (ii) information sharing and intellectual property rights, and (iii) novel financing schemes.

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