Researchers call for global grand challenge strategy to develop clean energy

wind farm
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845 MW wind farm in the U.S. state of Oregon. Credit: Steve Wilson / Wikipedia.

In a comment in this week's science journal Nature, an international group of researchers from nine countries call for a grand challenges strategy to set global priorities for developing renewable energy.

The authors argue that are not dropping fast enough to meet even the modest goals set out in last year's Paris Agreement on . They call for a targeted, internationally coordinated effort to identify and solve the scientific, policy and standing in the way of widespread adoption of .

"Renewable energy ... is a difficult, urgent global problem that has been neglected in terms of public research and investment. It requires big thinking, multidisciplinary approaches and supportive policies to compete with existing systems. And it is tightly coupled to global challenges, such as food and water security, poverty and health," the authors write.

They suggest an approach modeled on the Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative to combat neglected diseases, launched in 2005 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Foundation for the US National Institutes of Health. The initiative identified 14 priority areas, including developing a genetic strategy to incapacitate insects that spread diseases such as yellow fever and Zika virus.

The authors suggest that national governments, funding partners, philanthropic foundations and other private-sector actors come together and appoint an international science board of distinguished researchers, policymakers, industry leaders and engaged citizens from developed and developing countries. The board would create a detailed list of renewable energy challenges in areas including energy harvesting and storage, smart grids and transmission, policy levers and economic models.

"Such a shared purpose ... would accommodate the many disciplines needed across the natural and social sciences, and galvanize the best investigators - regardless of country - to work together to help solve one of the world's most pressing problems," the authors conclude.

The comment, "Renewables need a grand-challenge strategy," will be published Thursday, Oct. 6 in Nature.

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Journal information: Nature

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Oct 05, 2016
So-called renewable energy will never be economical. Germany has gone further with wind and solar than any other Western country. The result has been a tripling of energy costs, production cost increases, lost jobs, and the coining of the term, "energy poverty" which refers to people who cannot afford what has happened to energy costs.

Oct 06, 2016
One of the major questions is, what is the real supply of fossil fuels? About 8 years ago, I read some sites and was convinced "peak oil" was at hand. In this view, all the renewables were a smart investment. But then fracking tech took off, and prices plunged. Can anyone really model the supply curve?

One thing I'm pretty convinced of is that going way more in on fusion is smart, with the understanding it may be a 250-300 year project till we get it. That one gift to our ancestors balances out the mess we are making for them today.

Oct 06, 2016
Our renewable energy (a PV and EV combination), is saving us money, which we will use for the next EV.

I am not surprised that some folk will not do it - it is from political prejudice.

Oct 07, 2016
How about we end fossil fuels and increase CO2 because we want to?

I'd rather live on a tropical planet. If global warming theory is correct, well, we should be on the precipice of the next glaciation. Its probably best for civilization to avoid a glaciation.

Oct 09, 2016
More money for grants and more money for graft. A win-win for scientists and politicians..... the taxpayers.... not so much.

Oct 22, 2016
It is working:


It is time we ended this Faustian Bargain before it kills all of us.

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