Writing exclusively for BusinessGreen, Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Bourne predicts that post-Paris the UK can cement its position as Europe's premier clean tech cluster
The Paris climate change deal struck in December is a turning point for clean energy investment.
Not only does it mean for the first time the world has committed to limit global temperature rises to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But it gives a clear, unequivocal signal to clean energy investment - now is the time to act.
The International Energy Agency recently described innovation support for energy technologies as having the "greatest potential" to keep a 2C climate goal achievable. The Government recognises this and is supporting the growth of clean energy innovation in the UK.
The Prime Minister joined 19 other world leaders, including the US, China and India, to launch 'Mission Innovation' during the Paris talks - a pledge to double governmental and/or state-directed clean energy research and development investment over five years.
Doubling our country's investment means the UK public sector as a whole will spend more than £400m in 2020/2021 on clean energy innovation. The Department of Energy and Climate Change will be contributing by doubling to £500m our five-year budget for clean energy research, development and demonstration.
Because business will be the powerhouse behind building new clean energy industries, government investment will be designed to stimulate and leverage private sector investment in the most promising technologies. Our investment will go hand-in-hand with breaking down barriers to market entry, creating the right environment for innovation and helping new ideas flourish.
And UK businesses are already leading the way. We have Europe's largest cleantech innovation cluster, incubating green technology business start-ups, with cleantech clusters particularly clever at capitalising on innovation through collaboration.
But the scale of the challenge to develop new and improved technologies for a low-carbon transition is larger than any single country's budget can afford, so collaboration between the public and private sectors will become increasingly important at an international scale.
In Europe, Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation funding programme, has a budget of around €6bn for energy innovation between 2014 and 2020. Provisional results for 2015 indicate that UK organisations have been allocated €85m, the second largest share of 40 countries at 15 per cent of the budget, a great result for the UK.
We now need to build on this success. For 2016, there is around €340m available in the current Horizon 2020 Energy Call. Let's make sure UK innovators take this business opportunity.
However, even UK and European investment in green innovation is not enough on its own. We need to leverage worldwide investment through existing and new international initiatives, for mutual benefit. Through international collaboration, risks can be shared; new knowledge, skills, research facilities and funding can be accessed; and new business networks developed.
This is an exciting time and the UK is in a prime position to lead the clean energy revolution.
Lord Bourne is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Climate Change
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