Tracing the Linkages between Scientific Research and Energy Innovations: A Comparison of Clean and Dirty Technologies

16 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2020

See all articles by Robert Perrons

Robert Perrons

Queensland University of Technology

Adam B. Jaffe

Brandeis University; Motu Economic and Public Policy Research; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Trinh Le

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust

Date Written: September 2020

Abstract

The challenge of mitigating climate change has focused recent attention on basic scientific research feeding into the development of new energy technologies (Popp, 2017). Energy innovation tends to consist of a series of partially overlapping processes involving: (1) the production of scientific and technological knowledge, (2) the translation of that knowledge into working technologies or artifacts, and (3) the introduction of the artifacts into the marketplace, where they are matched with users’ requirements. However, relatively little data are available showing how long each of these processes takes for energy technologies. Here we combine information from patent applications with bibliographic data to shine light on the second process—that is, the translation of scientific knowledge into working prototypes. Our results show that “clean” energy technologies are more dependent on underlying science than “dirty” technologies, and that the average lag between publication of scientific findings and the incorporation of those findings in clean energy patents has risen from about five to about eight years since the 1980s. These findings will help policymakers to devise more effective mechanisms and strategies for accelerating the overall rate of technological change in this domain.

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Suggested Citation

Perrons, Robert and Jaffe, Adam B. and Le, Trinh, Tracing the Linkages between Scientific Research and Energy Innovations: A Comparison of Clean and Dirty Technologies (September 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27777, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3687933

Robert Perrons (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology

2 George Street
Brisbane, 4000
Australia

Adam B. Jaffe

Brandeis University ( email )

Waltham, MA 02454-9110
United States
781-736-2251 (Phone)
781-736-2263 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.brandeis.edu/global/people/faculty/jaff

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research ( email )

Level 1, 93 Cuba Street
P.O. Box 24390
Wellington, 6142
New Zealand

HOME PAGE: http://motu.org.nz

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Trinh Le

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Trust ( email )

Level 1, 93 Cuba Street
P.O. Box 24390
Wellington, 6142
New Zealand

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