DNV COO Elisabeth Tørstad calls for more research & innovation to better serve the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“We must invest more in research and innovation in order to continuously improve the key renewable technologies.

This will drive down life cycle costs and make renewable energy more competitive,” said Elisabeth Tørstad, Chief Operating Officer for DNV’s Division Americas and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Speaking during the UN Global Compact (UNGC) Corporate Sustainability Forum in Rio, Tørstad highlighted DNV’s voluntary commitment to the Rio+20 process to reinvest 6% of annual revenue into its research and innovation activities.

“Sharing technology knowledge is a key driver for success, and we will continue to be actively engaged in developing new technologies and methodologies in order to better serve the transitions to a low-carbon economy,” she pointed out.

“DNV’s commitment to Energy for All is deeply anchored in our vision to have a global impact for a safe and sustainable future,” added Bjørn K. Haugland, DNV Group Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer. “Our research & innovation efforts include the development of international standards and guidelines that will ensure that growth in energy access in developing countries is achieved with optimum solutions for environmental sustainability and low carbon development.”

Transformational change
Addressing high level business executives and government representatives at the Energy+ side event, Tørstad said “transformational change” is required in order to increase access to modern energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “We’ve already heard, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat: to provide universal modern energy access to all by 2030, annual investment needs to average more than 5 times the current level of USD 9billion. Official development assistance is insufficient to meet this need. The good news however is that 80% of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by 2050 provided it is backed by the right enabling policies.” (reference made here to IPCC’s special report on renewable energy sources and climate change mitigation)

Tørstad acknowledged that public policy initiative and public and private investments are key to meet the opportunities that open up in the renewable sector in the future. She considers the Energy+ initiative as “one important step in the right direction” and applauded the Norwegian Government and its partners for “making this bold and decisive move.”

Transparent investment regimes
“When leveraging private sector investments we must consider, among other things, market based mechanisms because we all know the private sector will go where they can make money. At the same time, we must compliment these market based approaches with other mechanisms in order to reduce risk…and we must keep in mind that the private sector is looking for stable, predictable and transparent investment regimes,” said Tørstad. She also urged: a sector-based approach as this will make it easier to get private sector involvement; to be more specific on actions that mitigate risk and ensure access to markets for the private parties; make it easier to engage sector-specific knowledge and utilize this in new markets ... mechanisms typically are more suited to provide a level playing field for competition.

“The Energy+ initiative is important and promising, not because of its sheer size and comprehensiveness, but because it is a testing platform for new mechanisms – global negotiations are slow and we need initiatives like this to accelerate the process,” commented Bente Pretlove, Senior Principal Adviser DNV KEMA Energy & Sustainability, who also made reference to DNV’s joint statement made together with 14 other Nordic UN Global Compact members urging Governments to “create the right policy frameworks to unlock innovation and investment.”

Scaling up the business contribution
In his remarks at the Access to Energy session at the BASD (Business Action for Sustainable Development) Business Day, DNV’s Senior Vice President and Head for Corporate Social Responsibility Sven Mollekleiv also referred to the critical role of business if universal access is to be achieved. “Scaling up the business contribution will not only require more action and innovation from business, but it will require effective enabling policy frameworks and supporting finance mechanisms. Increasing levels of investment can be a complex challenge and the perceived quality of policy and regulation will determine the level of risk associated with the investment. As such, it’s vitally important that governments establish trustworthy systems as this will help enable scaling of best practice projects and ensure that it becomes viable to invest in sustainable business ventures.”

Mollekleiv also stressed that strong public-private partnerships are essential for successful progress on sustainability and highlighted the Energy+ initiative as a leading example with the purpose to provide access to modern energy services to all by increased development of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and to mitigate energy’s impacts on climate.

Rio+20 takes place this week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and marks the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, in Rio de Janeiro.
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