To achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century, global energy systems must undergo a wholesale switch to low-carbon and energy-efficient technologies. However, many models used to chart this transition imply that there are benefits in delaying investment in these technologies, waiting instead for R&D to drive down costs over time. Such models overlook findings from a vast literature showing that the costs of these technologies decline as a result of their use. Our new paper in Environmental Research Letters draws on evidence from more than 200 journal articles and concludes that policies promoting such “induced innovation” have been a clear factor behind the remarkable success of low-carbon technologies. This suggests that not only is urgent action essential to facilitate the clean energy transition, but the transition itself may also end up much cheaper than predicted.
Carbon Brief 12th May 2021 read more »