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Innovation

Bold innovation is at the heart of everything we do at RMI, because we know that a business-as-usual approach will not solve our global climate challenge. At the root of any market, technology, or policy solution is innovation. We need to unearth the best ideas from the brightest minds to drive a clean energy future. And we need the courage, diligence, and tools to enable these innovations to surface and compete against powerful incumbents.

60
GW of new large-scale wind and solar we can add to the grid by 2025
144
B
$ in market potential available for home energy upgrades in the U.S.
40
B
$ the trucking industry could save each year through efficient technologies
777.6
B
$ in revenue expected in the global renewable energy market (excluding biofuels) by 2019
WHY

Energy innovation is key to a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future, but is too often blocked by incumbents. Our market interventions jumpstart innovation, market transformation, and growth.

Renewable and distributed resources—such as rooftop solar and batteries—are not being integrated into the system quickly enough. Oftentimes, new market entrants are even blocked by incumbents interested in maintaining the dangerous status quo of a centralized, fossil fuel-powered system. If we truly want to decarbonize the electricity and transportation systems, we’ll need to rely heavily on innovations in technology, business models, regulatory models, and more.

Innovating Disruptive Business Models

In the electricity sector, we’re changing the 20th century business models that have prevented 21st century technologies from taking hold. Our work to support New York's Reforming the Energy Vision (NYREV) is one example of how we support visionary partners with the tools necessary to innovate “new rules of the road” necessary to support a clean, distributed, and renewable electricity system. In the aviation sector, we’re working with leading airports to redesign the entire fuel supply chain to prove that sustainable biofuels bring benefits to airports and airlines, and provide customers with a more sustainable way to travel.

Supporting the Scaling of Clean Technologies

Emerging technologies and societal trends are creating an opportunity for new habits and systems to take hold. For personal mobility, the future is one in which electrified (and eventually autonomous) vehicles operate within transit-friendly, walkable, and bikeable cities. RMI is proud to have launched a partnership with the City of Austin, Texas to transform the city’s mobility future. In the electricity sector, the Business Renewables Center is supporting the massive growth in renewable development by supporting corporate energy procurement—helping some of the world’s biggest buyers “get renewable energy deals done.” Plus, we’re working to drive renewables adoption in some unexpected industries, such as in our Sunshine for Mines program, in which we’re helping global mining operations reduce their carbon footprint by embracing solar.

Driving Innovation Through Collaboration

Breakthrough innovations often come from close collaboration between different stakeholders who bring unique perspectives, values, and interests. The Electricity Innovation Lab was founded in 2012 to convene a bold and diverse set of electricity stakeholders to innovate solutions that solve the industry's toughest problems. Since its founding, the group has been involved in a powerful blend of thought leadership and on-the-ground consulting engagements that show how systemic changes requiring agreement among disparate parties are possible.

Busting Barriers to Next-Gen Design

In the shipping and trucking industries, cost-effective technologies exist to save massive amounts of fuel and cut carbon. But what both industries share is a need to drive demand for these technologies by increasing transparency of energy performance, and inspiring confidence that these technologies reliably save energy and money. In shipping, the innovative A to G rating has shed light on vessel performance. In trucking, our confidence reports are validating the performance and fuel savings of efficiency technologies that can improve a truck's fuel efficiency and save owners money.

Embodying Innovation in our Own Office

The RMI Innovation Center, located in Basalt, Colorado, is our 15,610 square-foot office building and state-of-the-art convening center. To advance our mission and propel the industry, we developed the Innovation Center to demonstrate how deep green buildings are designed, contracted, constructed, and occupied. The building achieves beyond-net-zero energy, generating more energy than it needs, through integrative whole system design. The building is intended to serve as a “living lab” with which we’ll share lessons learned so that it can be replicated. Therefore, RMI’s experience will serve as a practical model to inform thousands of buildings that would otherwise contribute significantly to the climate crisis.

Who’s Joining us to Make a Difference

Jeremy Grantham is a legendary investor, cofounder and chief investment strategist of GMO, and cofounder of The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. He has been a strong supporter of RMI's work.

We are currently in the race of our lives between the dire trends of a destabilizing climate and growing population on the one hand and the promise of innovations that may well save us on the other. We are pleased to support RMI in its urgent drive for systemic innovation in sustainability.

‐Jeremy Grantham, Legendary investor, Cofounder and Chief Investment Strategist of GMO, and Cofounder of The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment

Stories from the Field

Innovating at RMI’s New Innovation Center

As RMI staff got ready to move into our new Innovation Center in Basalt, CO, Cara Carmichael described how our integrated project delivery (IPD) contracting process helped us achieve our goals with our beyond net-zero building.

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Exploring New Ideas at e-Lab Summit

After the Electricity Innovation Lab's (e-Lab's) first summit in 2016, Leia Guccione described the most exciting new ideas and new solutions e-Lab members are working on.

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Making Waves in the Shipping Industry

Some 90 percent of the world's goods are transported by ship, producing a lot of carbon emissions. RMI's Shipping Efficiency operation brings data transparency, capital, and demand for fuel-efficient ships to the high seas, saving money and carbon.

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A Historic Step Toward Sustainable Aviation

With air transport emissions projected to triple within the next three decades, RMI principal Adam Klauber describes RMI's work to decarbonize aviation fuel, starting with a groundbreaking partnership between RMI, the Port of Seattle, and SkyNRG.

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