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The tragedy of product homogeneity and knowledge non-spillovers: explaining the slow pace of energy technological progress

Author

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  • Wei Jin

    (The University of New South Wales
    Zhejiang University)

  • ZhongXiang Zhang

    (Tianjin University)

Abstract

There is a growing body of literature mentioning the slow progress of energy technological innovation as compared to information technology (IT), but the reasons why the energy sector is perplexed by slow innovation remain unexplained. Based on a variety-expanding endogenous technological change model, this paper investigates the economic mechanism that underlines the slow pace of energy technological progress. We show that in the market equilibrium the growth rate of energy technology variety is always lower than that of IT variety, this outcome stems from both the market fundamentals where the homogeneity of end-use energy goods is less likely to harness the pecuniary externality embedded in the love-for-variety household, and the technology fundamentals where capital-intensiveness of energy technology assets inhibits the non-pecuniary technological externality associated with knowledge spillovers. We further show that the social planner allocation can raise the rate of technological progress in both energy and IT sectors, but still fails to achieve an outcome in which technological progress in the energy sector can catch up with the IT sector. Finally, using efficiency-improving revenue-neutral policy interventions that subsidize energy sectors and tax IT sectors, the decentralized market equilibrium can achieve an outcome in which both energy and IT sectors have the same rate of technological progress.

Suggested Citation

  • Wei Jin & ZhongXiang Zhang, 2017. "The tragedy of product homogeneity and knowledge non-spillovers: explaining the slow pace of energy technological progress," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 255(1), pages 639-661, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:annopr:v:255:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10479-016-2144-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s10479-016-2144-1
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Energy technological innovation; Product homogeneity; Knowledge spillovers; Love-for-variety effect;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q43 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Energy and the Macroeconomy
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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