Chinese Low-carbon Innovation Drives post-Paris Era

On April 27th, the 2015-2016 WWF Climate Solver China awarding ceremony was held in Beijing. This event aims to promote champions in the necessary economic transition of our global society towards a 100% renewable energy future through innovations intechnology and business models. The five most promising Chinese low-carbon technologies this year were awarded as the 2015-2016 WWF Climate Solvers. None of these five innovations existed on the market four years ago. As a collective their commercialistaion from now on carry the hope of increasing resource and energy efficiency 3-10 times in relevant sectors of replacing inefficient, carbon intensive practices and materials in fertilizers, water pipes, animal feed and data storage. They also spearhead the future of solar energy by already now aiming to increase resource efficiency, energy efficiency, production speed and lifespan of standard solar panels and heaters by 4-10 times.

On April 22nd, 175 countries officially signed the Paris Agreement, marking the solid step towards combating climate change after 2020. The international society has to accelerate the process of innovation and application of low carbon technology to achieve the goal of net zero emission of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century. During COP21 in Paris, 20 countries, including China, US and Australia, launched Mission Innovation, committing Governments to double their investments in cleantech R&D and launching Breakthrough Energy Coalition for private sector actors to take a leading role in financing important start-ups that can help achieve net zero emissions as fast as possible over years to come.

The Chinese economy has started it “New Normal” period after 30 years high speed economic growth. Transformation, upgrading of the productivity and diversity of innovation will become the main force to promote future economic growth. China is now trying to transform into being a fertile ground for innovation, creating a rare opportunity for the development and innovation of low-carbon technology in China as well as the world. Compared to other countries a high share of the Chinese population, in particular young 25-35 year old entrepreneurs, are now about to start or have just started new opportunity-driven business.

In November 2015, WWF launched the fourth “Climate Solver” selection with its partners. The project experts examined the potential of enterpreneurs emission reduction if there is good growth, technological innovation, market potential and other indicators through open and transparent procedure. And eventually the jury marked out the five most promising innovations, which are Bamboo Winding Pipelines, High-efficient, Flexible and Ultra-thin c-Si Solar cells/Modules, Flat Solar Collector Utilizing Heat Superconducting Material & Heat and PV Combined Module, Optimal Management Technology for Optical Disc-based Cold Data Storage System and Food Waste Treatment and Nutrition Recovery by Black Soldier Fly. If their five technologies could take good market shares from standard products in their sectors today by 2025, it will realize over 231 million tons CO2 emission per year.

WWF's climate solver project was set up in Sweden in 2008. It has been committed to identifying commercially available innovation developed by small and medium sized entrepreneurs (MSMEs) with a significant impact on avoiding emissions and providing clean energy access to poor communities. The Project also aims to communicate these innovations in an easy way to get the public more interested, engaged in and informed about the importance of climate innovations. It also provides access to potential investors, larger corporates and actors involved in international cooperation. Since it was introduced into China in 2012, WWF climate solver has been successfully hosted four times and selected 19 award-winning innovations in total. By promoting innovation cases and their potential to avoid emissions if they have strong growth is a way for WWF to make the potential of cleantech innovation more widely recognized by larger investors, corporates and policy makers which will help the sector and it’s companies to grow fast.

‘China has a strong advantage in clean technology and it is the largest country in the global  PV power generation capacity, and also is one of the biggest market of solar water heater.’ The world wide fund for nature (WWF) CEO Lo Sze Ping says, ‘This year we can see five exciting new technologies, which are examples of thousands of innovations being developed. We believe that they will be able to help the world take a step from fossil energy era towards a more sustainable future.’

“Climate change is far too urgent to focus innovation efforts to combat climate change on basic R&D.” commented Mr. Stefan Henningsson, Senior Advisor Climate Innovation at WWF Global Climate & Energy Initiative, “Innovation efforts must focus on taking technologies from R&D to Demonstration, Commercialisation and Deployment on large and rapidly growing global markets. Chinese entrepreneurs can play a key role on these markets if they also have strong domestic support by local policy, corporate, equity & debt finance community.”

As a global project of World Wide Fund for nature (WWF), WWF Climate Solver carries out the programme of identifying and promoting innovative entrepreneurship as a response to climate change and energy poverty in the Nordic region, China, India, South Africa and globally through partnership with Sustainia 100.

More information on the five awarded Chineses innovations will appear on the site shortly together with more information from the event in Beijing. 

The Climate Solver programme is possible thanks to financial support from Swedish Postcode Lottery and Dustin.


Hot climate for innovation in India

The third week of September was hotter than usual in Delhi for this time a year (almost 38 degrees Celcius). It was also a week of seeing how hot India is becoming in climate and energy innovation.

We had many eye-opening meetings and an innovation award event honouring four outstanding examples of Indian innovation, business models and entrepreneurship to combat climate change and enable energy access to more people:

-  Pay-as-you-go solar energy for energy-poor households by Simpa Energy

-  Reaching 200 000 people with solar energy through Hub & Spoke business model by Onergy

-  PLUGnCHILL - Electrified mobile cold storage avoids diesel going up in smoke by TESSOL

-  Switch from fossil energy to biogas and manure with a two years payback by BioUrja

Ajay Mathur, Director India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency, used the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme as a communication example for all climate entrepreneurs to learn from. Check on-line on and you can see that 14 558 520 LEDs have been distributed, saving 1 917 486 kWh/day, saving 9 056 767 INR/day and reducing 1572 tCO2/day.

By the time you read this, more LEDs will have been distributed – the counter is updated every 30 minutes. Ajay Mathur also expressed that these entrepreneurs show what can be done and what is the future and expressed that the Climate Solver programme is challenging us all to think how we can do things differently.

One absolute highlight this year was when Minister Prakash Javadekar said that he would like to know from these entrepreneurs what more they have to offer. Bringing awareness of the many solution providers to the highest policy arena was one of the purposes of setting up Climate Solver in the first place.

The Minister also congratulated WWF for highlighting the importance of entrepreneurship as a way of combating climate change and energy poverty and thinks the presence of Climate Solver in India will go a long way in having more solutions coming from the country in the years ahead. We hope it is true and after this week we are more confident than ever that the Indian cleantech innovation journey is only just starting on a long and exciting journey.

The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) is about to set up a 10th Centre of Excellence – On Start-Ups. A major business association opening up space for disruptors to have a central role can only be good news in constantly challenging conservative thinking internally, for ex in climate policy advocacy.

A very interesting initiative to watch is the Global Innovation & Technology Alliance (GITA) set up in public-partnership between CII and India’s Technology Development Board. Jointly funded development of cleantech already happens between India and Finland, Israel, UK, Spain and Korea on this platform. The kind of technology cooperation that we need to see more of and start-up generator countries in cleantech that are hungry for India’s huge market should not sit on their hands but get onboard if they are interested in strengthening commercialization opportunities for their business communities. Possibly even more innovative is the recently established Technology Acquisition & Development Fund (TADF) for "Green Manufacturing" where Indian companies can get direct funding support for Technology Acquisitions, indirect funding support through Patent pools and more.

The Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship in Ahmedabad is a key Orchestrator in the Indian cleantech innovation landscape. They are continually hosting 20 or so of India’s prime cleantech innovation leaders having gone through a very thorough screening process. And their more open cross-sectoral innovation call “Power of Ideas” with Economic Times and Ministry of Science & Technology generated 16 000 idea submissions last year. India’s got talent!

The creaming of the event cake was Ecolibrium. The company received a Climate Solver award two years ago as they presented their inspiring journey towards becoming a hardcore energy analytics company employing 550 people in 10 cities and saving energy every day they grow, which is already way outside Indian borders.

Five years ago they were only 2 people starting up a business in the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship in Ahmedabad and they testified that the recognition by WWF Climate Solver and UNFCCC’s Momentum for Change awards has served as an enabler for scaling up. Ecolibrium symbolised India’s position as a Strong Commercialiser in the Global Cleantech Innovation Index which was one of the areas we presented from WWF.

India is not yet creating as many start-ups (GDP related) as many western economies but how many European cleantech companies have seen an equivalent growth curve to Ecolibrium over the last few years?

So after all this, we do not read in too much in India ranking 81 on the INSEAD/WIPO Global Innovation Index (at least for those of us who are more keen to see fast scaling of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions than patents. This is also reflected by India scoring very high in Innovation Efficiency also by INSEAD/WIPO – very good at creating outputs as jobs and growing businesses from the inputs made into innovation infrastructures.

Using this quality, India has the potential to get existing and emerging technologies onto market through good policy and smart business models. For example, to realize the recent renewable energy roadmap released by WWF-India and WISE for the Palakkad District in Kerala provides a vision for a renewable and sustainable energy supply by 2030.

This district level study is a sequel to the earlier global, national and state level studies on 100% Renewable Energy by 2050. The district of Palakkad has a high potential for renewable energy resources, especially wind and solar. Considering the specific energy profile of the district, the focus is more on interventions in sectors such as transport, industry and domestic.

The study assesses a curtailed energy demand scenario that factors in aggressive interventions in energy conservation, energy efficiency and fuel substitution which lead to a reduction of 36 per cent in overall energy demand by 2030. Here again, the point is proven that energy efficiency and energy conservation measures are essential to reduce the overall energy demand, and the remaining energy demand can then be met by renewable energy sources. The same opportunity that we can grasp in Kerala, India, we can grasp wordwide and beyond COP21.

Dr TS Panwar, Director, Climate Change & Energy Programme at WWF India and Stefan Henningsson, Senior Advisor Climate Innovation, WWF International 

Reaching China: key success factors for the Nordic Cleantech sector (podcast)

This episode of the Green Exchange looks at China and how the Nordic Countries can build long-lasting successes with this country that keep the cleantech world dreaming. It includes an exclusive pool of international cleantech experts who discuss the many challenges of doing business in this emerging market as well as the cultural factors that come into play.

How can Nordic entrepreneurs engage the best aspects from both cultures to co-create a winning combination? Listen to find out.

Find out more. 

WWF-India recognizes innovative solutions through Climate Solver Awards

Four Indian innovators – GPS Renewables Pvt. Ltd., TESSOL, Simpa Energy India Pvt. Ltd. and Onergy (Punam Energy Pvt. Ltd.) - were conferred with WWF-India’s Climate Solver Award today at New Delhi. Started in Sweden in 2008 and in India in 2012, the Climate Solver initiative has now expanded to include countries like India, China and South Africa.

This year’s winners were awarded under two categories – Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction and Energy Access (EA).  Simpa Energy Pvt. Ltd. and Onergy (Punam Energy Pvt. Ltd.) were awarded for their innovative business models in enhancing energy access for rural households, and GPS Renewables Pvt. Ltd. and TESSOL were recognized for their cutting edge technologies under the GHG reduction category.

The Climate Solver (CS) initiative is WWF’s global innovation platform to encourage and support low carbon innovative technologies that contribute towards mitigating climate change.  The platform strengthens the development and widespread use of low carbon technologies that are being commercialized by thousands of SMEs around the world. The World Bank estimates that the cleantech opportunity for SMEs in 145 developing countries over the next decade is at $6.4 trillion.

“I believe in human intent and intellect. I believe in innovation”, said Shri Prakash Javadekar, Hon’ble Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, in a video message conveyed during the award ceremony. He congratulated the winners and invited more solutions from such entrepreneurs.  Recognizing innovation as a significant change agent, he added, “This initiative of WWF will go a long way to have more innovations in India, and India offering a real solution for climate change.”

If these winning business models under the EA category, Progressive Purchase by Simpa and Hub & Spoke by Onergy, are replicated at a large scale, they can together reach out to around 40 million people. The innovative technologies under GHG Reduction category – BioUrja, a dry anaerobic digester by GPS Renewables and PLUGnCHILL, a cold storage refrigeration solution by TESSOL, have the potential to mitigate around 50 million tonnes of GHG emissions.

Mr. Ravi Singh, SG & CEO, WWF-India said, “We are pleased to help showcase these technologies and innovative business models that can be emulated and scaled up both nationally as well as globally. Solutions such as these have the potential to bring about rapid and transformative changes at the grassroot level – in terms of reducing carbon emissions, providing clean energy access, reducing pressure on natural resources, providing conservation benefits, and overall compatibility with transition to a renewable energy future.”

Speaking at the event, Mr Stefan Hennigsson, Senior Adviser for WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative said, “Climate science and recent innovation trends tell the same story. As a global collective we should aim at an inclusive transition to 100% renewable energy as fast as we can whilst providing better services for people and planet. This is a trillion dollar global market and India has the potential to be a very strong commercialiser of such solutions coming from entrepreneurs such as the ones awarded today. But the Global Cleantech Innovation Index shows that India has untapped opportunities in increasing investor activity in the area, improving research infrastructure and in forging more strategic partnerships with countries that are already very strong in early-stage cleantech innovation”

Since 2102, 13 SMEs have been recognized as Climate Solvers in India, including the four winners from this year. WWF-India has been partnering with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), New Ventures India, Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (IIM Ahmedabad), Skyquest Technology Consulting Pvt. Ltd., National Innovation Foundation and Technology Development Board (Department of Science and Technology, Government of India) for the Climate Solver initiative.

Previous climate solver awardees under the Energy Access theme in India were Envirofit India, Naturetech Infrastructure, Gram Power and Enfragy Solutions, and under the GHG Reduction theme were Aspiration Energy, Clique Developments, Ecolibrium Energy, Toro Cooling Systems and GIBSS. Two of the winners -Toro and Clique Developments - were also among the 100 innovators listed in this year’s Sustainia100. All the WWF awarded entrepreneurs - from India, China, South Africa and Sweden - are portrayed on Read about India’s strengths and weaknesses in nurturing clean technology entrepreneurs in WWF and Cleantech Group’s Global Cleantech Innovation Index. 

Innovating the future: 100 sustainable solutions

By Stefan Henningson, Senior Adviser Climate Innovation, Tabaré A. Currás, Advisor on Energy Economics, and Kookie Habtegaber, Green Economies Lead, WWF International.

In less than 200 days, the nations of the world will meet in Paris to agree to jointly embark on a great endeavor: transforming our economies towards a future without dangerous climate change.

Tackling this enormous challenge will require an end to business as usual, and leadership to pursue effective decision-making on mitigation and adaptation strategies. But such things will not come without economic, policy and behavioural changes that embrace cutting edge technologies around us. For that, governments and financial institutions must enable progress by creating the conditions for transformation.

They will need to invest in the right innovation, and not fight against it.

The solutions are here already

Looking at innovations portrayed in Sustainia100 over the years (as well as Cleantech 100, Climate Solver and others), it is clear that such a transformation is huge – but it’s not a technological moon landing. We have the solutions right now. We urgently need to embrace them, intergrate them in order to transition towards a more sustainable economy.

The 4th edition of Sustainia 100 displays another set of innovative and readily available sustainable solutions. These innovations are top notch, and join the ranks of the many examples of projects and technologies that are already shaping a better future for people and the planet in different corners around the world.

Among all the solutions identified by Sustainia100 this year, there are five common features that will influence the climate and energy sector in the years ahead:

  • They incentivize circularity:  Businesses are responding to the economic logic of going circular, and attracting more customers by sharing the financial rewards that a more sustainable business model results in (See page 156; “Circular Food Waste Processing into Biofuel”, page 93 “Climate-Positive Data Center”, page 54 “Leasing Organic Kids’ Wear”). More than $1 trillion a year could be generated by 2025 from a successful transition to a more circular economy.  
  • They encourage access over ownership: It is estimated that the sharing economy can increase global revenues from $15 billion in 2015 to approximately $335 billion by 2025. Pooling resources and joint investments for the common good can foster quality goods and services (see page 102; “Mobile Solar Computer Classrooms”), reduces consumption (see page 74; “Electric Vehicle Car-Sharing”) and results in significant energy and emissions savings (see page 138; “Green Bonds Finance City Climate Action”).
  • They foster digitalization: Studies predict that the number of devices connected to the internet will triple by 2020. These developments enable disruption across traditional sectors by optimizing energy and resource-use management, creating efficiency along the supply chain (see page 30; “Lighting Made Smart with Building Data”, page 82; “3DSolar Potential Mapping Tool”) and replacing products with services (see page 72 “Peer-to-Peer Bicycle-Sharing Platform”).
  • They put the world closer to 100% renewable energy: Dealing with climate change will require leaving at least 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Fortunately, wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro and biomass resources are not only vast, but also accessible (see page 121; “Concentrated Sunlight for Process Heating”),  storable (see page 112; “Stabilizing Energy Supply with Mechanical Batteries”, page 114 “Storing Solar Electricity for Grid Integration”, page 27 “Renewable energy storage for homes”) and possible to integrate in conservative sectors (page 29 “Energy Positive Pre-fabricated House”) under current technologies to replace coal and gas. Replacing oil use in transport is a game-changer with substantial efficiency, economic and health wins, and an area where important new business models and initiatives are on the rise (see page 79; “Free Electric Car Charging Networks”, page 68 “Designing Streets for Walking and Biking in Chennai”, page 69 “Retrofitting to Create Electric Ferries”).
  • They create value from local resources: The energy transition that we have started encourages a move from a centralized energy production archetype to a more flexible and distributed model of power generation – one that values the best available local renewable energy resources over the many times non-existent or environmentally harmful conventional resources that often depletes foreign reserves that could instead be used for other social services (see page 119; “Micro-Financed Off Grid Solar Power”).

The real innovation challenge lies in market creation for all these solutions. Changing the policy and finance rules in line with climate science and sustainability can help thousands of market disruptors and proactive corporates to come out with new business models and to take central stage in building a smarter and better future.

Let’s build a circular economy based on 100% renewable energy – together. Solution providers around the world are more than ready, as this year’s Sustainia 100 proves. Sustainia 100 presents some of the solutions  reinventing the way things are done, taking the threat of climate change as an opportunity to develop and design economic and social transformation today that is climate resilient, green, smart and better.