By Clare Saxon Ghauri
PARIS: Today Energy Unlocked was launched by The Climate Group with UK start-up Tempus Energy on the sideline of UN climate talks. The new not for profit organization will accelerate energy system transformation around the world.
In a room at the Museum of Modern Art covered in a mural painted by Raoul Dufy celebrating the pioneers of electricity, Molly Webb, Founder of Energy Unlocked addressed an audience of government, investment and business leaders. Pointing out how little progress has been made in global energy systems since the room’s mural was painted in 1937, she stressed the current fossil-fuel based system has “too high an environmental and economic cost” and still leaves 1 billion people without access to energy. “Climate change is an unintended consequence of the energy system that was set in motion a century ago.”
“If we want to tackle climate change we need to change incentives and innovate. Energy Unlocked is a market builder and will ensure that the exciting companies and innovative business models that are already out competing fossil fuels, are not locked out of today’s energy system because of the policies that were created to support energy systems of the past. We are here to level the playing field,” Molly Webb said.
Acknowledging Steve Jobs who said he would “give people things they didn’t know they needed yet”, she said policymakers must level the playing field to set “competitive conditions necessary to drive resilient, renewable, low carbon outcomes. We need to embrace disruptive innovation. This transition can happen faster than we think.”
The inspiring evolution of energy must continue, said Jim Walker, founder of The Climate Group. “We are surrounded by energy innovators through the ages. Today’s challenge is to unlock innovation in the energy system.” He told the audience that The Climate Group’s 2008 SMART 2020 report valued the opportunity for smart grids, smart transportation and buildings at EUR 600 billion in 2020, and with progress since then, for instance in storage and microgrids, there is even more at stake.
Nancy Pfund, Managing Partner, DBL Investors and an early support of electric vehicle and storage pioneer Elon Musk, said venture capital must disrupt our grandfathers’ energy systems still in use today, “so we’re able to move from the past to the future, and from incumbents to new interests.” She reminded the audience that Twitter and Google were innovations that came from venture backed companies. “Impact investment really is a powerful tool to move society forward in a lot of different ways. Now this disruption and advancement is happening in energy with companies like Tesla, SolarCity and Nest, who are disrupting centuries of incumbents and giving us power and convenience in the fight against climate change.”
But the leading impact investor warned that this transition will bring challenges of its own, identifying the rapid success of companies like Tesla being a “postcard from the future”. She cautioned: “There will be companies both old and new that won’t survive, and others that can grow and force industry to rearrange a way forward. We are going beyond, to shared solutions.”
To read the full article, visit The Climate Group.