By Tom Bayes
Clean energy innovation announcements came at a dizzying pace at last month’s COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Recently, Mission Innovation published an initial report of some of the most prominent announcements – including new developments in our Missions focused on carbon dioxide removal, clean hydrogen, zero-emissions shipping, net-zero industries, urban transitions, our green-powered future and integrated biorefineries.
Here, we look at dozens of other climate- and clean energy-related innovation announcements made at COP, broken down by sector:
Carbon Dioxide Removal & Carbon Capture, Utilisation & Storage
- The U.S. Department of Energy launched its Carbon Negative Earthshot, which aims to remove gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere and durably store it for less than $100 per U.S. short ton of net CO2-equivalent. It will include a “robust accounting of lifecycle emissions” and “high-quality, durable storage with costs demonstrated for monitoring, reporting and verification for at least 100 years.”
- Norwegian research organisation SINTEF launched its Global Climate Fund to finance research into “climate-positive solutions” such as carbon dioxide removal, or CDR.
- Australia announced it would overturn domestic legislation barring the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is Australia’s state green bank, from financing carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies and launched a new 1 billion Austrian dollars fund (500 million Australian dollars in government funding, with the remainder matched by the private sector) to invest in low-emission tech companies in Australia, including CCUS ventures.
- The Carbon Capture and Storage Association presented multiple case study projects, including Zero Carbon Humber, a scheme to use low-carbon hydrogen and CCUS to make the Humber, which is an industrial region along an estuary on the east coast of England, the world’s first net-zero industrial cluster.
Hydrogen & Ammonia
- Five international hydrogen industry associations called on governments to provide greater policy clarity for the hydrogen industry.
- The International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) launched a new green hydrogen policy toolbox, the Enabling Measures Roadmaps for Green Hydrogen. In consultation with industry and international organisations, the regional roadmaps provide policymakers a “Top 10” of measures and critical timelines to reduce cost, grow demand and build infrastructure to support green hydrogen development.
- The International Energy Agency also published its Ammonia Technology Roadmap, charting the route to more sustainable nitrogen fertiliser production.
- The U.S. launched the H2 Twin Cities programme, in which cities and regions will pair up to share and showcase best practices and lessons learnt in the scaling up of hydrogen deployment. The programme will include mentoring between communities. It is being launched by the U.S. as part of its deliverables in the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Hydrogen Initiative.
- The World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Markets Initiative announced the H2Zero initiative, which features pledges by 28 major companies – including fossil fuel companies like BP, Shell and TotalEnergies – to drive growth in the demand for, and supply of, hydrogen. The initiative aims to create 1.6 million tonnes of annual demand for “lower carbon intensity” hydrogen.
- Multiple bilateral hydrogen agreements were announced, including a deal between the Belgian ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge and the Chilean Ministry of Energy that could supply Europe with green hydrogen at €1.10 per kilogram, which is 10 percent of current baseload hydrogen prices, and a new Australia-Republic of Korea Low and Zero Emissions Technology Partnership, which includes collaboration on hydrogen supply.
- Numerous individual projects were announced or showcased, ranging from Japan’s $100 million investment in hydrogen and ammonia-fired power generation, to the UK’s first mainline-approved hydrogen train, HydroFLEX.
- The Getting to Zero Coalition of maritime, energy, infrastructure and finance companies identified 10 primary shipping corridors that have a high potential for policymaker action. The coalition also called for overarching net-zero targets for the maritime sector with pre-2050 deadlines, so zero-emissions options are the default by 2030.
- The COP26 Declaration on Accelerating the Transition to Zero-Emission Cars and Vans was signed by 38 national governments, as well as numerous local governments and major automobile manufacturers and fleet operators. The declaration aims to achieve 100 percent zero emission vehicle sales by 2035 in leading markets, and no later than 2040 globally – which would be boosted by future endorsement by the largest vehicle markets (including the U.S., China, Germany and Japan) and manufacturers like Toyota and Volkswagen.
- The Global MOU for Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles (ZE-MHDVs) was also launched with the aim of 30 percent of new MHDVs being zero emissions by 2030, and a full transition to ZE-MHDVs in new fleets by 2040.
- The World Bank launched the Global Facility to Decarbonise Transport, a new multi-donor trust fund to mobilise $200 million over the next decades to decarbonise road transport in emerging markets and developing economies.
- Twenty countries, including France, Spain, the U.S. and UK, joined the International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition to support measures to reduce aviation sector carbon emissions, including by promoting the development of low-carbon aircraft, sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and carbon offsetting.
- Eighty signatories in the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance (including airlines and large travel buyers) committed to boost the use of SAF to 10 percent of the global jet fuel demand by 2030.
- Twenty airline members of WEF’s Target True Zero initiative, operating 800 aircraft carrying 177 million passengers annually, committed to using new technologies, including electric, hydrogen and hybrid aircraft. The initiative will prioritise short-haul flights, which are the easiest to electrify, before turning to longer-range flights.
Nuclear & Fusion
- Fusion energy was for the first time included in a United Nations (UN) dialogue, when the UK Atomic Energy Authority hosted a panel including the ITER Project, in which 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale, carbon-free source of energy.
- The U.S. and Romania announced a deal for the U.S. to install and demonstrate a Small Modular Reactor nuclear power station in Romania, the first of its kind. The programme has received U.S. Department of Energy support and the technology recently received U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval.
- A group of five European Union (EU) members – Austria, Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg and Portugal – released a joint statement opposing the inclusion of nuclear power projects in the EU’s Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities, the rulebook guiding investors on which technologies can be considered sustainable.
- Through the Industrial Deep Decarbonisation Initiative, a Clean Energy Ministerial initiative, the UK, India, Germany, Canada and the UAE committed to support new markets for low-carbon steel, cement and concrete, and pledged to achieve net-zero in major public construction steel and concrete by 2050. Specific interim targets by 2030 are expected to be agreed by mid-2022.
- WEF, management consultancy Accenture and the Electric Power Research Institute launched the Transitioning Industrial Clusters Towards Net Zero initiative, which aims to have more than 100 industrial clusters engaged by 2024. Four clusters from Australia, the UK and Spain have already joined with a collective CO2 emissions reduction profile of approximately 30 million tonnes – equivalent to that of Denmark.
- Numerous technology innovation projects were showcased, including the Japanese CO2-SUICOM, a concrete technology that absorbs and permanently stores carbon dioxide during the hardening process, the world’s first commercialized carbon-negative concrete technology. A CO2-SUICOM concrete block has a CO2 capacity equivalent to what a cedar tree can absorb in a year.
- More than 40 companies signed up to the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment, pledging to take increased action to decarbonise the built environment across their portfolios and business activities.
- The Green Grids Initiative launched the One Sun One World One Grid initiative to create globally interconnected green power grids. Recognising that the sun never sets, the initiative aims to facilitate sun, wind and water energy trading across borders, including by building long-distance cross-border transmission lines and investing in storage infrastructure.
- The Long Duration Energy Storage Council was launched, bringing together 25 founding members from the energy tech, end-user and investment sectors, including BP and Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The council aims to enable deployment of 85-140 terawatt hours of long-duration energy storage worldwide by 2040, displacing fossil fuels and reducing power sector emissions 10-15 percent.
Diverse & Crosscutting
- The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change launched the UN Climate Change Global Innovation Hub. The Hub aims to combine the UN’s convening power with the dynamism of the private sector to facilitate solutions that support the UN’s climate-related Sustainable Development Goals and address core human needs for food, shelter and mobility. The Hub includes a digital platform hosting databases of available solutions, tools to determine the impact of climate action and a space to facilitate financing climate solutions.
- The U.S. launched the Net Zero World Initiative, a partnership between countries working to implement their climate ambition pledges and accelerate transitions to net-zero, resilient and inclusive energy systems. Members will partner with the U.S. government and the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories to create and implement highly tailored, actionable technology road maps and investment strategies that put net-zero within reach. Founding country partners are Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria and Ukraine.
- The U.S. launched the First Movers Coalition of 25 major companies, including Airbus, Amazon, DHL, Volvo, Apple and Boeing, which all pledged to purchase green technologies in seven hard-to-abate sectors: steel, cement, aluminium, chemicals, shipping, aviation and trucking. The initiative is intended to leverage these companies’ purchasing power to drive creation of commercially viable markets for innovative clean energy technologies.
- The U.S. also launched the Global Clean Technology Incubator Network, in which the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory will partner with other national labs, technical institutions, investors, corporations, governments and philanthropies around the world to create a global network of clean energy incubators. This public-private partnership will work with entrepreneurs and corporations to scale up the development, financing and adoption of low- to zero-emission clean energy innovations in emerging and developed markets.
- The partnership between the European Commission, European Investment Bank and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst was officially launched. It will mobilise up to €820 million between 2022-2026 to accelerate the deployment and rapid commercialisation of innovative technologies that will help deliver European Green Deal ambitions and the EU’s 2030 climate targets. Investments will be directed toward a portfolio of EU-based projects with high potential in four sectors: clean hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels, direct air capture and long-duration energy storage.
- The UAE and IRENA announced the Energy Transition Accelerator Financing Platform, a new global climate finance facility to accelerate the transition to renewable energy in developing countries. The UAE committed $400 million toward the platform’s goal of securing a minimum of $1 billion in total funding.
Tom Bayes is policy advisor for international energy innovation engagement at the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.