As the world increasingly turns its attention to sustainable energy sources, renewable energy has become a necessary part of achieving the goal of net zero emissions. Net zero is the ultimate aim when it comes to addressing climate change, and renewable energy provides an essential tool in reaching that goal.
Although there have been signficant advances in renewable energy technologies in recent years leading us closer to our net zero ambitions, there remain major challenges yet to be overcome before we can make full use of this potential clean power source across both developed and developing countries alike.
Looking to build a better, more sustainable world has been talked about for years. It’s a substantial part of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) in the form of Goal 7 that aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
But are we getting close to achieving this shared global imperative of reaching net zero?
I hosted a terrific discussion with two compelling subject-matter experts:
- Ed White, vice president and principal analyst at Clarivate, based in London. Ed co-authored “A study of energy in transition,” a comprehensive report on the role of research and innovation in the world’s shift to sustainable energy sources, published in October 2022.
- Shara Mohtadi, former chief of staff for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, DC. Shara is an advisor to Columbia Climate School in New York and Newlab, an applied innovation and investment platform.
In a wide-ranging conversation over 26 minutes, my two guests considered how renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are becoming more accessible and affordable than ever before. The growth of mass storage solutions for renewable energy also means that this type of power can be used when it’s needed most – such as peak times during the day or night-time hours when people require electricity for lighting or convenience – thus providing much needed cost savings over time.
Ed and Shara spoke of the challenge facing scientists, engineers and policymakers to match ambition with tangible action. Everyone needs to balance the environmental, economic and practical imperative for accelerating the uptake and eventual full transition to sustainable energy sources.
The discussion also looked at developments in the two powerhouse countries at the forefront of research and innovation globally – the U.S. and China.
We’re seeing a shift where China was primarily a manufacturing hub making the technology of others today, Ed notes, adding that China now is a source of technology itself. Shara spoke of how geopolitical and trade-related tensions in the race to greening the economy worldwide are growing and will continue to do so, in parallel with finite resources around building a green infrastructure and renewable energy.
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