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Technology and the diffusion of renewable energy

  • Popp, David
  • Hascic, Ivan
  • Medhi, Neelakshi

We consider investment in wind, solar photovoltaic, geothermal, and electricity from biomass and waste across 26 OECD countries from 1991 to 2004. Using the PATSTAT database, we obtain a comprehensive list of patents for each of these technologies throughout the world, which we use to assess the impact of technological change on investment in renewable energy capacity. We consider four alternative methods for counting patents, using two possible filters: weighting patents by patent family size and including only patent applications filed in multiple countries. For each patent count, we create knowledge stocks representing the global technological frontier. We find that technological advances do lead to greater investment, but the effect is small. Investments in other carbon-free energy sources, such as hydropower and nuclear power, serve as substitutes for renewable energy. Comparing the effectiveness of our four patent counts, we find that both using only patents filed in multiple countries and weighting by family size improve the fit of the model.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Economics.

Volume (Year): 33 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (July)
Pages: 648-662

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eneeco:v:33:y:2011:i:4:p:648-662
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eneco

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  1. David Popp, 2002. "Induced Innovation and Energy Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 160-180, March.
  2. Valentina Bosetti & Carlo Carraro & Emanuele Massetti & Massimo Tavoni, 2007. "Optimal Energy Investment and R&D Strategies to Stabilise Greenhouse Gas Atmospheric Concentrations," CESifo Working Paper Series 2133, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. McDonald, Alan & Schrattenholzer, Leo, 2001. "Learning rates for energy technologies," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 255-261, March.
  4. Michael I. Cragg & Matthew E. Kahn, 2009. "Carbon Geography: The Political Economy of Congressional Support for Legislation Intended to Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Production," NBER Working Papers 14963, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Eaton, Jonathan & Kortum, Samuel, 1999. "International Technology Diffusion: Theory and Measurement," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(3), pages 537-70, August.
  6. David Popp, 2003. "Pollution control innovations and the Clean Air Act of 1990," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 641-660.
  7. Lori D. Snyder & Nolan H. Miller & Robert N. Stavins, 2003. "The Effects of Environmental Regulation on Technology Diffusion: The Case of Chlorine Manufacturing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 431-435, May.
  8. Agnolucci, Paolo, 2006. "Use of economic instruments in the German renewable electricity policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(18), pages 3538-3548, December.
  9. Wayne B. Gray & Ronald J. Shadbegian, 1997. "Environmental Regulation, Investment Timing, and Technology Choice," NBER Working Papers 6036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Janusz A. Ordover, 1991. "A Patent System for Both Diffusion and Exclusion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 43-60, Winter.
  11. Hélène Dernis & Mosahid Khan, 2004. "Triadic Patent Families Methodology," OECD Science, Technology and Industry Working Papers 2004/2, OECD Publishing.
  12. Nick Johnstone & Ivan Haščič & David Popp, 2010. "Renewable Energy Policies and Technological Innovation: Evidence Based on Patent Counts," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 45(1), pages 133-155, January.
  13. David Popp, 2010. "Exploring Links Between Innovation and Diffusion: Adoption of NO X Control Technologies at US Coal-fired Power Plants," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 45(3), pages 319-352, March.
  14. Lanjouw, Jean Olson & Mody, Ashoka, 1996. "Innovation and the international diffusion of environmentally responsive technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 549-571, June.
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