Innovation Gaps

Key long-term technology challenges for research, development and demonstration

About this report

The IEA’s Innovation Gaps framework identifies key long-term technology challenges for research, development and demonstration that need to be filled in order to meet long-term clean energy transition goals. The framework highlights around 100 innovation gaps across 45 key technologies and sectors including power, other fuel supply, industry, buildings, transport and energy integration.

Measuring innovation by Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Each innovation gap in the IEA's Innovation Gaps framework represents an innovation challenge that needs to be overcome to reach the level of performance or deployment of a technology necessary to reach the Sustainable Development Scenario.

For each innovation gap, we identify what solutions exist today and rank their readiness along an extended Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale, that goes from the concept stage to scaling up the technology solution. We then describe what activities are underway to advance those solutions and close the gaps, and what governments, companies, research institutes are leading those efforts today.

Finally, we assess what needs to be done by governments, the energy industry, and other stakeholders to take advantage of these opportunities, both in the short-term and in the long-term.

  1. Initial idea: basic principles have been defined
  2. Application formulated: concept and application of solution have been formulated
  3. Concept needs validation: solution needs to be prototyped and applied
  4. Early prototype: prototype proven in test conditions
  5. Large prototype: components proven in conditions to be deployed
  6. Full prototype at scale: prototype proven at scale in conditions to be deployed
  7. Pre-commercial demonstration: solution working in expected conditions
  8. First-of-a-kind commercial: commercial demonstration, full-scale deployment in final form
  9. Commercial operation in relevant environment: solution is commercially available, needs evolutionary improvement to stay competitive
  10. Integration at scale: solution is commercial but needs further integration efforts
  11. Proof of stability: predictable growth