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"The Energy Technology Innovation System"

May 1, 2012: A train passes the Tokyo Institute of Technologies' new Environment & Energy Innovation Building, which is covered by 4,500 solar panels. Japan is shutting down its last nuclear reactor, adding urgency to calls for a green energy revolution.
AP Photo

"The Energy Technology Innovation System"

Journal Article, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, volume 37, pages 137-162

November 2012

Authors: Kelly Sims Gallagher, Member of the Board, Arnulf Grubler, Laura Kuhl, Gregory Nemet, Former Visiting Scholar, Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program/Energy Technology Innovation Policy research group, January–June 2011, Charlie Wilson

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Energy Technology Innovation Policy; Environment and Natural Resources; Science, Technology, and Public Policy



This article reviews the concept of an energy technology innovation system (ETIS). The ETIS is a systemic perspective on innovation comprising all aspects of energy transformations (supply and demand); all stages of the technology development cycle; as well as all the major innovation processes, feedbacks, actors, institutions, and networks. We use it as an analytical framework to describe key features and drivers of energy innovation. A global snapshot of the ETIS is provided using investments as the main indicator. Rationales for government policy in energy innovation are discussed, and policy design guidelines for an effectively functioning ETIS are presented. The proposed guidelines are based on a survey of the literature and empirical case studies; they diverge substantially from polices implied by partial perspectives on innovation. Key research, information, and data needs are also identified.


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For Academic Citation:

Gallagher, Kelly Sims, Arnulf Grubler, Laura Kuhl, Gregory Nemet, and Charlie Wilson. "The Energy Technology Innovation System." Annual Review of Environment and Resources 37 (November 2012): 137-162.

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