Clean Energy Progress Report: International Energy Agency (IEA) Provides Input to the Clean Energy Ministerial

30 March 2011

The IEA Report

Report cover: Clean Energy Progress Report: IEA input to the Clean Energy Ministerial

From the Foreword

"A number of countries have already achieved tremendous clean energy deployment, leading the way for others to follow. But are we on track to achieve the energy technology revolution? Which technologies are exceeding or close to the levels of deployment that are needed? What solutions are experiencing challenges? In an effort to answer these questions, this report provides an overview of technology deployment status, key policy developments and public spending on research, development and demonstration (RD&D) for clean energy technologies."

At the 2011 Clean Energy Ministerial, the International Energy Agency (IEA) introduced a new report entitled Clean Energy Progress Report: IEA input to the Clean Energy Ministerial. The report provides background analyses for the ministerial sessions, highlights progress in the deployment of clean energy technologies globally, outlines the status of public spending on research, development and demonstration and discusses recent policy developments. Excerpts from the report are provided here.

Key Findings

Clean energy has seen strong growth, but it needs to expand and accelerate.
"During the last decade clean energy technologies came into their own. Energy efficiency implementation is improving. Renewable energy has seen 30% to 40% growth rates in recent years, due to market-creating policies and cost reductions. Carmakers are releasing the first set of electric vehicles (EVs) and are attracting customers. But we still have formidable challenges before us. These developments make clear that many clean energy technologies are gaining momentum. However, not all of the news is good. Despite the tremendous growth we have seen in this sector, the demand for traditional fossil-based energy has outpaced demand for clean energy (Figure 1). To achieve the clean energy revolution that has been called for, the current double-digit growth seen by renewable energy must be sustained for the long term. Energy efficiency efforts must provide the right incentives for utilities, industry and consumers to invest, and verify savings through improved monitoring and reporting. Advanced biofuels and electric vehicles must ramp up dramatically. Government funding commitments to large-scale demonstrations for CCS and smart grids must be allocated. In short, achieving a sustained global clean energy pathway will require significant scale-up and acceleration."

Smarter, more ambitious strategies are needed.
"While the last decade has seen some renewable energy technologies become competitive with conventional energy technologies, most clean energy technologies still cost more than incumbent fossil-based technologies that have received (and continue to receive) subsidies from government in the form of tax credits, infrastructure development and funding for large-scale demonstration. The competitiveness gap of clean energy technologies depends on their level of maturity, as well as the lack of internalisation in energy prices of external environmental costs, including greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, the deployment of technologies is hampered by non-economic barriers such as administrative burdens, grid integration issues, lack of awareness and public acceptance problems. Clean energy technology deployment will therefore require a concerted public and private commitment, supported by more ambitious policies. It is clear that setting a CO2 price will not be enough to achieve the revolution. Governments need to take each of the following policy measures"...


According to the report, clean energy ministers should:

  • Continue to grow public investment in technology innovation
  • Untap the potential of energy efficiency
  • Sustain renewable energy momentum with smarter policies
  • Foster electric vehicle market introduction through long-term commitments
  • Leverage local and regional leadership to develop integrated clean energy systems
  • Make the Clean Energy Ministerial an international forum for commitment, action and shared learning

The full report is available from the International Energy Agency.