Wind Power (Photo Credit: Håkan Dahlström, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

A centerpiece of the Hewlett Foundation’s climate program is a belief in the power of innovation. We fund efforts to build markets for new technologies, like wind and solar energy, and we support organizations that push for policies that lead to innovation. We see a more prosperous world where more people have access to energyespecially in the developing worldso all our solutions drive toward innovation.

That’s why we’re partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy’s new Clean Energy Innovation Initiative. The department supports some of the world’s most cutting-edge clean energy research and development projects; they also help to support new energy companies seeking to commercialize these technologies. 

But all too often, there’s a gap between investors and innovators, limiting the potential of promising clean energy technologies that can power the economic and consumer needs of the future in ways that are sustainable.

Our goal is to bridge that gap by helping develop a platform that will allow investors who want to invest in next-generation energy technology to peer into the government’s research portfolio. We hope that better information will lead to more investment opportunities and quicker commercialization of the solutions to climate change, because addressing climate change will require an energy transition of unprecedented scale and speed. 

Most climate mitigation models assume electricity production will be virtually carbon-free by mid-century. They assume that those reductions in carbon emissions will result from some combination of renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, and nuclear power. Those are big assumptions about the future course of innovation.

To get to this future we will need to implement the solutions we already have: more wind, solar, energy efficiency, and fuel switching.  But the world will also need technologies that have not been commercialized or even invented.  We need innovation. We need it now.