Friday, December 9, 2016

Clean Energy Economy: how to get there

The new report, From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy by the Risky Business Project, demonstrates that not only is managing the risks implied by climate change both economically and technically viable, but it also would create significant new business opportunities. The transition to a cleaner energy economy rests on three pillars: moving from fossil fuels to electricity wherever possible, generating electricity with low or zero carbon emissions, and using energy much more efficiently.
Making progress towards these important goals requires a large-scale shift away from ongoing spending on fossil fuels and toward up-front capital investments in clean energy technologies.
Authors of the report have modeled four distinct pathways - renewable energy, nuclear power, fossil fuel power with carbon capture and storage, and "mixed resources" pathway, that could achieve economy-wide reductions in CO2 emissions of 80 percent below 1990 levels, and compare results to a “business-as-usual” pathway.
Researchers found that under the Mixed Resources pathway the necessary total additional capital investment in the U.S. economy would be $220 billion per year from 2020 to 2030, $410 billion per year between 2030 and 2040, and $360 billion per year between 2040 and 2050. The largest additional capital investments would be in power generation ($55 billion per year); advanced bio-fuels ($45 billion per year); purchases of advanced light duty vehicles ($75 billion per year); and energy efficiency measures ($16 billion per year). As a result, across the U.S. approximately 460,000 additional construction jobs could be created by 2030, with the number rising to 800,000 by 2050.
Obviously, private sector should play a key role in implementing the clean energy investment programs. However, they can do it at the necessary speed and scale only if a clear and consistent policy and regulatory framework will be established that provides incentives for innovation and deployment of clean energy systems. Such policy and regulatory framework have to internalize the true costs of carbon pollution (e.g. to put a price on carbon emissions), avoid subsidizing activities that increase climate risk (e.g. tax incentives for fossil fuel extraction), coordinate and streamline government investment in research and development, infrastructure, and education, lower regulatory and financing barriers to clean energy projects, etc. Read more at