The World Economic Forum Platform for Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials has slated Innovation and Clean Energy as one of its challenges. Designed to allow companies, governments, and others to move beyond boundaries of innovation and create additional solutions across the energy value chain, this challenge has the potential to produce real results.

At present, energy innovation is moving faster than ever, according to the WEF. This is due to major cost reductions and quick implementation of renewable energies, such as solar, wind, and energy storage. New technologies are giving consumers greater freedom to choose their energy sources, but more work needs to be done to meet the climate goals created as part of the Paris Agreement — and the WEF is working to make that happen.

WEF Innovation and Clean Energy Projects       

  • Partnering for Sustainable Energy Innovation. A strategic collaboration with Mission Innovation — an alliance of 25 governments and the EU — this project allows companies to work with governments on the advancement of clean energy research and development and key innovation issues. It also helps companies and governments establish a Global Sustainable Energy Innovation Fund.
  • Accelerating Clean Hydrogen. This project gathers key stakeholders to fast-track the shift to a clean hydrogen economy. Established in 2017, the Hydrogen Council works to boost public and private collaboration efforts to produce clean hydrogen.
  • Accelerating Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage. At present, renewable energy systems are not working fast enough to halt carbon dioxide emissions at the necessary levels. This project strives to create a framework for innovators, policymakers, and the finance community to work together to implement CCUS faster and repeat these practices elsewhere.

A Look at Renewable Cities

In 2014, Burlington, VT revealed it had produced enough power from renewable sources to handle the entire city’s electricity needs. Since then, a few other small towns have joined the initiative, including Georgetown, Texas and Aspen, Colorado.

At present, more than 170 cities and towns across the U.S. have pledged to transition their power supply from coal and natural gas to solar, wind, and hydropower, according to Grist. This includes major cities, as St. Louis plans to run exclusively on renewable energy by 2035, despite currently only receiving 11% of power from these sources.

Of course, even a town generally powered by 100% renewable energy might sometimes need to source electricity from fossil fuels, but making this a rarity would be a huge step forward. Right now, more than 60% of the U.S. electricity grid is powered by fossil fuels, according to Grist, and most cities are only getting approximately 15% of their energy from renewable sources.

However, President Joe Biden has promised to eliminate all emissions from the electricity grid by 2035, so hopefully the U.S. will be able to achieve this aggressive, yet possible, goal.

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