Technology Development and Deployment

New technologies and policies play an important role in all scenarios, including baselines and stabilization scenarios. To meet the growing need for energy services, new technologies must deliver energy services in an ever more efficient, less polluting, and less costly manner. Technological change plays an important role in this process, along with other important developments such as new institutional arrangements, adequate investments in energy, capacity building and education, or free trade to mention just a few enabling developments. The need for technological change is even greater in the stabilization cases because additional technological measures are required to close the emissions gap. Thus, numerous new and advanced energy technologies will have to be developed and deployed during the next 100 years.

Large research and development (R&D) efforts are required to deliver technologies to fill the gap in addition to delivering the reference scenarios. R&D comes in many forms, ranging from basic scientific research to technology deployment. The knowledge base upon which future technologies will emerge will be created by curiosity-driven research, applied research, research in related fields, and by learning processes that begin once technologies begin to emerge in their first applications.

New technologies historically emerge after extensive experimentation and the accumulation of knowledge through experience. Technologies typically begin their existence in niche markets and are characterized by high costs and frequently inferior performance compared with the old ones in core applications. Dedicated development often, but not always, brings improvements. In economics this process is called technological learning or learning by doing. In engineering and business, one often refers to so-called cost buy-downs along a learning curve. It is only after the costs have been reduced and performance improved that widespread diffusion can take place and old technologies can be replaced by new ones. A rich literature that describes the enormous improvements and cost reductions that can be achieved with accumulated experience and deployment of new technologies, eventually resulting in superior performance and lower costs than older competitors. Gas turbines are an example of one technology that has been developed this way. It should be mentioned that these stages in the innovation chain are not intended to be linear or sequential; it is an interactive process. R&D is always required, and niche markets for experimentation are needed to advance even the mature technologies.

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