Tracking Clean Energy Innovation in the Business Sector: An Overview

About this report

Acceleration of clean energy innovation, supported by effective innovation policies, is critical for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and the technology development in the business sector will be to success. As their ambitions for technological change rise, governments are increasingly asking how they can measure the performance of their energy innovation systems, prioritise technologies and benchmark progress internationally. However, in most countries, information about private energy innovation is much less readily available and less reliable than that for the public sector. In addition, the available approaches to filling this gap have never before been compiled in a single place.

By presenting a wide variety of different approaches to tracking clean energy innovation in the business sector, this Overview demonstrates that governments and other analysts already have a range of practical options open to them. For example, the wealth of existing experience with surveys of business sector innovation, including R&D, has been applied to questions of energy by several countries. The different approaches that have been followed provide invaluable insights into their advantages, as well as the main challenges of gathering reliable energy-related innovation data from the private sector. These challenges can include the need for upfront investment, institutional capacity building and consistent classification of technologies. However, the advantages in terms of policy-relevant insights can outweigh the drawbacks, especially when data is complemented by other sources of quantitative and qualitative information.

This Overview reviews a range of such sources including financial fillings, venture capital deals, patents, scientific publications, marketed products and firm-level perceptions. It recommends that governments seek to develop and share effective practices in this area and adopt a portfolio of indicators suited to their own context. Six insights are presented for governments wishing to strengthen their energy innovation tracking efforts. The insights highlight the value of increased international cooperation on methodologies, which echoes the importance of cross-border collaboration to accelerate clean energy innovation more generally.

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Supported by

  • European Union

    This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union as part of the Clean Energy Transitions in Emerging Economies programme. This publication reflects the views of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Secretariat but does not necessarily reflect those of individual IEA member countries or the European Union (EU). Neither the IEA nor the EU make any representation of warranty, express or implied, in respect to the article's content (including its completeness or accuracy) and shall not be responsible for any use of, or reliance on, the publication. The Clean Energy Transitions in Emerging Economies programme has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 952363.

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