Technological progress towards sustainable development

Klaassen G, Miketa A, Riahi K, & Schrattenholzer L (2002). Technological progress towards sustainable development. Energy & Environment: 553--577. DOI:10.1260/095830502320939552.

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, to present an analysis of a comprehensive set of global energy scenarios that has been undertaken to identify key energy technologies for achieving sustainable development. Secondly, to describe tools that could aid policy makers using insights in the dynamics of technological progress to promote the development of promising technologies throughresearch and development (R&D) and procurement.

As an operational working definition of sustainable development we use the following four criteria: (1) Economic growth sustains throughout the whole time horizon; (2) socio-economic inequity among world regions is reduced "significantly" during this century; (3) reserves-to-production (R/P) ratios of exhaustible primary energy carriers do not decrease substantially from today's values; and (4) short- to medium-term environmental impacts (e.g., acidification) are reduced towards meeting critical loads and carbon emissions at the end of the century are below today's levels.

Applying these criteria in an analysis of a representative set of global economy-energy-environment scenarios shows that in sustainable-development scenarios, hydrogen fuel cells and solar photovoltaic cells emerge as key technologies in the long run. Natural gas technologies, in particular fuel cells and combined-cycle power plants, could provide for an efficient medium-term transition to these key technologies.

The question then becomes which policies can promote the development of these technologies. We think that an important tool to tackle this question is provided by an improved concept of technological learning. According to that concept, technological progress, expressed as specific technology cost, is a regular function of not only cumulative installed capacity but also of R&D expenditures. This tool can assist in determining how much money should be spent for which energy technology on procurement (capacity expansion) and how much money for R&D. The results of first model runs aiming at eventually formulating policy guidance are presented.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Energy (ENE)
Transitions to New Technologies (TNT)
Environmentally Compatible Energy Strategies (ECS)
Bibliographic Reference: Energy & Environment; 13(4/5):553-578 [2002]
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 02:14
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2016 11:50
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/6563

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