Energy security, environmental protection and economic prosperity all pose major challenges for today’s energy decision makers. To meet these challenges, innovation, the adoption of new cost effective technologies, and better use of existing energy-efficient technologies are key elements.
The world is not on course for a sustainable energy future – with security concerns and CO2 emissions projected to more than double by 2050. But this alarming outlook can be changed. A recent major IEA analysis “Energy Technology Perspectives – Scenarios and Strategies to 2050” (IEA, 2006) demonstrate that by developing and employing technologies that already exist or are under development, the world could be brought onto a much more sustainable energy path.
The costs of achieving a more sustainable energy future are not disproportionate, but they will require substantial effort and investment by both the public and private sectors. There will be significant additional transitional costs related to RD&D and deployment programmes to commercialise many of the technologies over the next couple of decades.
Governments will continue to play a major role in energy technology R&D – in defining policies and funding them. How can IEA member country governments be sure they are making the right choices? One answer is by learning from the experience of others – through the use of peer reviews. The IEA version of the peer review – the in-depth review - is a well established tool used since the IEA was created more than 30 years ago. It provides for its members a framework to examine and compare experiences and discuss “best practices” in a host of energy policy areas, including research, development and technology policy.
Making the most of the in-depth review process, as well as recommendations emanating from it, offers the promise of better and more well-informed R&D policies – ultimately assisting the development of the new energy technologies that we so urgently need.