Meeting the challenge of delivering safe, secure and affordable energy combined with substantial reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases will require significant innovation in new, low carbon technologies over the coming decades. Innovation will be required in the way our energy is generated and delivered and the way in which it is used in our homes, transport systems, industries and places of work. If we are to meet or even be close to our 2050 carbon targets at an affordable cost we need attractive, commercially viable low carbon energy technologies to be available soon. Maximising the pace of innovation and its implementation in low carbon is hugely important to this.
Scenario analysis undertaken by the ETI has shown that the slower the pace of energy innovation, the less time the UK will have to transition to a lower carbon economy and the more expensive it will be to do so. We have no more than 10 years to prepare for many key decisions. These include issues such as choice of power generation technology. Once built, these will be with us for 40-50 years. This means we have to understand the innovation process and make sure that all parts of the process work as quickly and effectively as possible. We need this to ensure all of the necessary conditions are in place for implementation to happen so that the UK can transition as cheaply as possible to a lower carbon economy. It will be easier to achieve the transition to a lower carbon energy system, at the scale and pace required if there is a shared understanding of the drivers of new low carbon energy technologies, the barriers that can impede their development and the key interactions required to unlock opportunities in the UK. Better understanding of the specific needs of others and better communication between different players in the innovation process will help to remove unnecessary delays by ensuring all of the necessary pre-conditions for progress can be met.