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Governments Plan to Improve Clean Energy Effort



Mission Innovation partners came together at the first Mission Innovation (MI) Ministerial last week. At the event, ministers from all over the world revealed their governments’ five-year plans to double clean energy research and development funding. This year the European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, was also welcomed as the 21st partner.

Collectively, these 21 partners represent well over 80 percent of global public investment in clean energy research and development, currently totalling approximately $15 billion per year. The 21 partners have each pledged to seek a doubling in their governmental and/or state-directed clean energy research and development investment over five years, reaching around a combined $30 billion per year by 2021. These efforts under Mission Innovation represent an unprecedented acceleration of research and development efforts for innovative clean energy technologies.

Ministers also met with leaders of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition and other leading energy investors, underscoring the critical link between government innovation and entrepreneurship to bring affordable clean energy technologies to market.

In recent years, thanks to advances in research in many places worldwide, there has been remarkable progress in driving down the cost of key technologies by 40 to 90 percent, notably in land-based wind power, rooftop and utility solar, electric car batteries, and LED lighting.

As costs have dropped, demand has surged. These successes show the power of innovation – driven by sustained public investment in research and development coupled with business leadership – to bring once fledgling ideas into the mainstream.

These impressive gains, however, are still insufficient to meet our long-term climate goals, while providing affordable, reliable, and secure energy supplies. Reducing the cost of clean energy technologies still further – driven by innovation and public-private investment in research and development – will underpin global strategies to enhance global energy security, drive economic growth, bring life-changing energy services to the poor and increase ambition in combatting climate change.

Under Mission Innovation, each MI partner independently determines a strategy for clean energy innovation funding based on individual national resources, needs, and circumstances. MI partners also encourage mutually beneficial engagement with other partner countries in international collaborations.

At the first ministerial, MI Ministers formed a Steering Committee, adopted an Enabling Framework, and agreed to a mission statement to help provide a foundation for accelerated progress. MI partners also issued the preliminary results from an analysis of existing technology roadmaps where a number of countries have already identified initial tangible opportunities for additional collaboration.

During the ministerial, each government also provided information on national clean energy needs, plans, priorities, and supporting policies and programs for clean energy innovation. A series of webinars over the coming months will provide an in-depth look on a country-by-country basis. Schedule and registration information for the webinars are available on the MI website.

Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of Energy, said: “Our support for Mission Innovation is crucial to funding the basic scientific research and development that will underpin the advanced clean energy solutions needed to combat climate change in the 21st century. These technologies will help drive down adoption costs to grow low-carbon economies and create an entirely new markets for the solutions that will reduce heat trapping emissions.”

Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission Vice President for Energy Union, said: “The European Commission is honoured to be part of Mission Innovation. Scaling up clean energy innovation is key to the success of the European Energy Union and to the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. It also represents a major global economic and industrial opportunity. Mission Innovation therefore coheres perfectly with our upcoming research, innovation and competitiveness strategy.”

Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, Mexican Secretary of Energy, said: “The clean energy R&D investment by MI members represent a transformative public investment to support clean energy development and provides a clear direction of the areas in which each country has decided to move forward, including areas of high technological risk and uncertainty. Patient and long term investment from private sector will be key to complement public investment to accelerate these technologies to the market.”

Sudirman Said, Indonesian Minster of Energy, said: “Indonesia is committed to accelerate the innovation and investment in clean energy. We pledged to increase our state research and development budget on clean energy nine times over the next 5 years with the intention to boost our nation capabilities, to attract investment and to work with our neighbours to promote clean energy revolution in the region.”

Harsh Vardhan, Indian Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, said: “I am pleased to note that Ministers have endorsed the recommendations made by MI countries and subgroups will now work together to lead the objective of Mission Innovation. I would like to reaffirm India’s commitment to pursue green path to growth through Research Innovation and Joint Collaboration.”

The Honourable Jim Carr, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Innovative technologies will play a key role in Canada’s transformation into a low-carbon economy. By doubling our investment in clean and emissions-reducing energy technology, we will help meet our climate change objectives, increase the productivity and competitiveness of Canadian firms and create clean jobs.  We look forward to working with our domestic and international partners to help advance our Mission Innovation goals.”

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Clean energy is the future, so research and innovation must be at the forefront of our efforts to create sustainable, low-carbon economies. In contributing to Mission Innovation, the European Commission aims to use the European Union’s leadership and political commitment to the development of low-carbon technologies, while sharing its extensive experience in coordinating international research and innovation collaboration, to accelerate the clean energy revolution.”

Matar Hamed Al Neyadi, Undersecretary of Energy at UAE, said: “Over the last decade, the UAE has led the growth of clean energy in the region and established solid foundations upon which to build a green economy for future generations. The nation has adapted its energy sector to clean energy and has endorsed policies and initiatives to improve energy efficiency.”

Maarten Camps, Netherlands Vice-Minister of Economic Affairs, said: “As EU Presidency we fully support the European Mission Innovation membership. In accordance with the EU’s ambitions I am pleased to announce The Netherlands’ candidacy for Mission Innovation, with the aim of becoming a full member during COP22 in November in Marrakech. Mission Innovation membership supports our ambitions relating to clean energy innovation.”


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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