Energy Starts to Become More of a Technology Race

Area of Scanning: Ecological System and Resources

Author: Colin Dobson

What is Changing?

Many clean technologies are poised to rapidly deploy and make significant inroads into the energy sphere in the next 10-15 years.  Indeed, high-uptake scenarios are increasingly credible. Many Asian countries are committed to clean technologies, moving into global leadership positions. These technologies draw from free resources, such as wind and solar, or commonly-found and inexpensive inputs, such as agriculture waste. As they displace existing fuels, the emphasis of the Asian and global energy story will begin to shift to being more a story about technology than one of natural resources.

Implications

As the shift occurs, so does the character of energy competitiveness pressures. Technology races emphasize the need for a highly-knowledgeable, collaborative and innovative workforce, as well as strong management and governance capacities. They raise the prominence of some trade issues, including intellectual property and component tracking. They test the ability of countries to overcome barriers to the rapid uptake of new technologies (policy/institutional, infrastructural, informational, financing, etc.). Such races also offer a fickle advantage ­­– early-adopters are rewarded, but constant vigilance is required to maintain position.

 

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