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On which technologies do renewable energy innovations build on?

CPB Background Document, 19 December 2013

In this study, we use patent-citations analysis on patents in renewable and fossil-fuel energy filed at seventeen European countries over the 1978-2006 period to address the research question: on which technologies does renewable-energy innovation build on?

This background document accompanies CPB Discussion Paper 262.

Our descriptive analysis shows that renewable technology mainly builds on its own technology-specific knowledge stock, as we find that on average more than 80% of the prior art citations by patents in the renewable energy field refer to patents in the same specific technology field. Yet, we also find that renewable technologies rely to a large extent on technology developed outside the field of energy. We find very few spillovers to renewable technologies from fossil-fuel technologies, a notable exception being the field of waste energy.

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