The Seriousness of Failed Cleantech Commercialisation

The Seriousness of Failed Cleantech Commercialisation

Business Green blog “Can anyone defuse the carbon bomb?”  is important whilst scary reading referring to the new report Point of No Return study from Greenpeace and Ecofys, which argues that 14 giant "carbon bomb" fossil fuel projects that are currently in planning have the potential to drive up global emissions 20 per cent by 2020 on their own.

The five points brought up by James Murray are very important and valid points where point 5) The rewards for those who defuse the "carbon bomb" will be massive echos the existence of WWF Climate Solvers. Because we believe and even know that some solutions, entrepreneurs and companies must grow very, very fast for us to have a chance to combat climate change. This is why we must focus on enabling this rapid commercialisation, at early as well as later stages of cleantech business development.

What is also worrying in this context though is that the lack of ambition on climate change is starting to take it's toll also on the cleantech industry where several players that could reap massive rewards are being forced to cave in due to lack of policy and investor confidence. The public private partnership machinery to support solutions is failing to deliver at scale. Policy makers and investors must engage in a dialogue with those who have alternative and transformative solutions across sectors, and not stay stuck in a sector-by-sector I-will-change-as-little-and-slow-as-I-can-dialogue with incumbent industry sectors. Policy makers say business-as-usual (BAU) is not an option, yet what we see is BAU. And investors keep betting our pension funds on good old coal, oil and gas since they expect to get high returns on investments from the BAU way of thinking.   

Global clean energy investments actually fell 11% last year according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This happens at a time when we know it must at least triple or quadruple very quickly if we are to have a chance to combat global warming. At least if we should listen to the World Economic Forum Green Investment Report.

Some real suffering examples of the failure of cleantech commercialisation:

Hailed A123 systems advanced batteries and complete energy storage for ex for electrified vehicles have gone bankrupt as sufficient market demand has not appeared.

The winner of last year's Intersolar award and an earlier Climate Solver,  has now gone bankrupt. The technology combines solar power generation with the use of solar heat. It is the first concentrating PVT collector where priority is given to generating heat as well as electricity. The intersolar jury believed that the solution’s technical construction generated significantly higher yields than any previous systems. Now they are bankrupt. Liquidity issues made it impossible for the award winning company to pay a supplier, and there was no investor to jump in and save the day.

Unfortunately there are several more examples, and many more to come unless policy makers and investors wake up.

If we do not join forces to support our Climate Solvers so that they can grow rather than shrink, what chance do we have ? We must step up our ambition in order to reap the rewards of those who diffuse the "carbon bomb" which could be massive. And policy makers must understand that a top priority for supporting solution providers is to increase ambition on climate change. This creates markets as well as strong industrial policy support for the new strategic industries that are necessary to create a green economy.

Stefan Henningsson

Senior Adviser Climate Innovation


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