Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 133–155

Renewable Energy Policies and Technological Innovation: Evidence Based on Patent Counts


DOI: 10.1007/s10640-009-9309-1

Cite this article as:
Johnstone, N., Haščič, I. & Popp, D. Environ Resource Econ (2010) 45: 133. doi:10.1007/s10640-009-9309-1


This paper examines the effect of environmental policies on technological innovation in the specific case of renewable energy. The analysis is conducted using patent data on a panel of 25 countries over the period 1978–2003. We find that public policy plays a significant role in determining patent applications. Different types of policy instruments are effective for different renewable energy sources. Broad-based policies, such as tradable energy certificates, are more likely to induce innovation on technologies that are close to competitive with fossil fuels. More targeted subsidies, such as feed-in tariffs, are needed to induce innovation on more costly energy technologies, such as solar power.


Environmental policy Innovation Patents Renewable energy Technological change 

JEL Classifcation

Q55 Q58 O34 O38 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Empirical Policy Analysis UnitOECD Environment DirectorateParis Cedex 16France
  2. 2.The Maxwell SchoolSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  3. 3.NBERCambridgeUSA

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