PublicationJournal Article Underinvestment: The Energy Technology and R&D Policy Challenge

July 30, 1999
Publication Type:
Journal Article

This View­point exam­ines data on inter­na­tional trends in energy research and
devel­op­ment (R&D) fund­ing, pat­terns of U.S. energy tech­nol­ogy patents and
R&D fund­ing, and U.S. R&D inten­si­ties across selected sec­tors. The data
present a dis­turb­ing pic­ture: (i) Energy tech­nol­ogy fund­ing lev­els have declined
sig­niÞ­cantly dur­ing the past two decades through­out the indus­trial
world; (ii) U.S. R&D spend­ing and patents, both over­all and in the energy
sec­tor, have been highly cor­re­lated dur­ing the past two decades; and (iii) the
R&D inten­sity of the U.S. energy sec­tor is extremely low. It is argued that
recent cut­backs in energy R&D are likely to reduce the capac­ity of the energy
sec­tor to inno­vate. The trends are par­tic­u­larly trou­bling given the need for
increased inter­na­tional capac­ity to respond to emerg­ing risks such as global
cli­mate change.


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