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Twenty Countries Pledge $20 Billion to Accelerate Clean Energy Innovation

December 03, 2015

Over 150 heads of state met in Paris this week, the largest group of leaders ever to attend a UN event in a single day, to address global climate change and the need for policies and technologies that will set the world on the path to a low-carbon, climate resilient future. Two major initiatives were rolled out to spearhead the global cooperative effort, according to an Associated Press report.  First, twenty major economic powers, representing 80 percent of global clean energy research and development spending, pledged to double their investments in clean technologies. Second, Bill Gates announced the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, an effort driven by private investors to support early stage technologies emerging from the contributing countries. In the leadup to the event, the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) announced $125 million in investments for transformative energy projects.

Mission Innovation, the name of the 20-country initiative, is intended to spark new clean energy innovations by ramping up R&D investment and encouraging partnerships between member countries and with the private sector. Partner governments include: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Additional countries are encouraged to join in the future.

Current clean energy R&D spending in these countries is estimated at $10 billion, which, under the agreement, would grow to $20 billion over the next five years. The first implementation meeting will be held in early 2016. In a joint statement, the member nations noted that “accelerating widespread clean energy innovation is an indispensable part of an effective long-term global response to our shared climate challenge.”  Each country is encouraged to tailor their investment to reflect national needs and priorities, and to attract private investors to advance the commercialization of research.

Read the U.N. Mission Innovation joint statement…

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and more than 20 other billionaires from 10 countries launched the Breakthrough Energy Coalition to help fill the need for private investment to break clean energy research to market. The group’s website suggests that a new source of capital is needed to help companies survive the early stages of development and the “Valley of Death.” While the private sector is best equipped to build companies and evaluate their potential for success, in the current business environment the risks involved in early-stage clean energy investment outweigh the costs. Thus, the coalition will serve a source of funding for potentially transformative ideas that do not meet the market tests of traditional venture or angel capital investors, according to the site.

Learn more about the initiative…

The week before the event, ARPA-E released the list of selected projects from its OPEN 2015 solicitation. Winners will receive a total of $125 million to combat climate change and solve pressing energy challenges. The list includes projects from 21 states and 10 technical categories.

View the list of winners…

Internationalenergy, climate change