Renewable energy comes from natural sources that are continually being replenished, such as sunlight or wind. Energy solutions such as solar power, wind energy, and hydropower are all helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, and small businesses have a big part to play as we move away from fossil fuels.
Below, we’ll look at how business research and development (R&D) can have a positive impact on the development of green and renewable energy.
The Role of Business in Driving Energy Innovation
Businesses are doing much of the heavy lifting in the fight against climate change. The Paris Agreement, the international treaty on climate change adopted in 2015, called for global warming to be limited to 1.5°C. To get there, the world will need to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, and get to net zero by 2050.
While the technology we need to reach the 2030 target is already available, the same can’t be said for the 2050 target. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that nearly 50% of the technologies needed to reach net zero by 2050 are only at the demonstration or prototype phase. Energy innovation is crucial, and business R&D is a major driver of this. In fact, the IEA has calculated that in 2021, businesses spent nearly USD 120 billion on energy research, three times more than governments.
How Small Business R&D Can Make a Difference
It’s not just big companies that can drive innovation when it comes to green and renewable energy — small companies can make an impact too. Let’s take a look at how small businesses can position themselves to do so:
Adopting a Startup Mentality to Mitigate Climate Change
Changing the way we generate and consume energy is a big adjustment for everyone, from governments to big businesses and private citizens. We won’t be able to reach net zero without rethinking our everyday habits, whether that’s governments committing to phasing out coal power or individuals deciding to buy fewer clothes and wear them for longer.
Entrepreneurs are well placed to be a part of the solution when it comes to abandoning old habits and adopting green energy. After all, starting your own business is fuelled by the drive to do things in a new and better way. By developing sustainable new products and solutions, small businesses have the power to make a lasting impact in this space.
Developing Solutions with Government Support
As governments explore moving away from traditional fossil fuels and towards alternatives such as electrification, hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels, and bioenergy, they’re recognizing the potential of small businesses to develop green energy solutions.
In 2021, the US Department of Energy announced $115 million in funding to small businesses for clean energy R&D projects. In Canada, meanwhile, the Office of Energy Research and Development (OERD) invests in small and medium sized businesses to support energy innovation through various programs.
Drive Green Energy Innovation in Your Business
Is your small business innovating in the renewable energy space? Maybe you have an idea for a new kind of solar panel or a more sustainable way to generate energy.
The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College helps companies with their R&D needs by connecting business leaders with faculty, students and staff researchers who can bring their ideas to life. The department of Research and Innovation works with industry and community partners on projects at any stage of the research and development continuum, from early concept development through to final testing and validation.
Contact us today to discover how we can help your business with an R&D program that has a positive impact on green and renewable energy.