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WIREs Clim Change
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Trends in investments in global energy research, development, and demonstration

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Recent national trends in investments in global energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) are inconsistent around the world. Public RD&D investments in energy are the metric most commonly used in international comparative assessments of energy‐technology innovation, and the metric employed in this article. Overall, the data indicate that International Energy Agency (IEA) member country government investments have been volatile: they peaked in the late 1970s, declined during the subsequent two decades, bottomed out in 1997, and then began to gradually grow again during the 2000s. The allocation of funding for different energy‐technology areas also varies hugely across different countries, but investments in fossil fuel and nuclear technologies continue to dominate spending. We have very poor data for private investments, but it is very likely that they have decreased as a result of the recent recession. Despite their increasing significance in the world's energy sector, little is known about public or private energy innovation investments in the rapidly developing countries. None of the six ‘BRIMCS’ countries reviewed here are members of the IEA, which is one of the few agencies that collects international statistical data on energy RD&D budgets. Like energy RD&D patterns in the United States and other IEA countries, BRIMCS country energy RD&D appears to take place predominantly in fossil fuel and nuclear technologies. WIREs Clim Change 2011 2 373–396 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.112

Figure 1.

Energy use of the BRIMCS countries, the United States and the EU between 1973 and 2006.36

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Figure 2.

Reported total public investments for all energy‐technology RD&D in IEA Member countries. Due to missing data, the IEA does not include Czech Republic, Poland and the Slovak Republic in the Estimated IEA total.35 For a detailed description of what is included in the different categories, see Ref 38. Data reported are the lower limit of data available, and actual investments are probably higher, especially with regard to demonstration activities.

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Figure 3.

Government budgets for all energy‐technology RD&D for a selection of IEA Members.35 Data reported are the lower limit of data available, and actual investments are probably higher, especially with regard to demonstration activities.

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Figure 4.

Funding for energy RD&D in the United States through the US Department of Energy. ‘Other power and storage technologies’ includes funding for ‘Transmission and Distribution’ research, ‘Total Other Technologies or Research’ includes funding for ‘Basic Energy Sciences’ and for ‘Environmental and Biological Research’. Available at: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/doe_energy‐tech‐spending1978‐fy12R_march3f.xls.

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Figure 5.

Funding for energy RD&D by the Japanese government.35 Data reported are the lower limit of data available, and actual investments are probably higher, especially with regard to demonstration activities.

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Figure 6.

Funding for renewable energy RD&D in a few selected countries.35 Data reported are the lower limit of data available, and actual investments are probably higher, especially with regard to demonstration activities.

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Figure 7.

Government support for energy RD&D in Brazil.41 Notes: Energy RD&D in Brazil is funded through two sectoral programs administered by the Ministry of Science and Technology (CT‐Energy and CT‐Petro). Eletrobras and Petrobras (both companies are partially owned by the government) partly provide funds into sectoral programs, but also conduct their own research facilities and programs.

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Figure 8.

Government support for energy RD&D in India.41 Notes: Data include funding from the Ministry of Coal, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Ministry of Power, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Ministry of Science & Technology, Department of Earth Sciences and the Department of Atomic Energy. State‐owned electricity companies (such as NHPC Ltd., NTPC Ltd., and NEEPCO Ltd) are 100% owned by the government and their R&D budgets are included in government funding. State‐owned oil companies (Oil India Ltd., Gail India Ltd., Hindustan Petroleum Ltd., and ONGC Ltd) have their own individual R&D budgets and are therefore reported under other sources of funding (company documents do not mention ‘demonstration’ activities, and this is why these data are referred to as energy R&D). The spike in other sources of funding in 2003 is associated with data availability on loans and grants for R&D projects provided by the Oil Industry Development Board, which is part of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

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Figure 9.

Government support for energy R&D in Mexico,41 from CONACYT .49 Notes: Government funding is based on an official report of federal funding for energy R&D by CONACYT, which includes funding for: IMP (Mexican Institute of Petroleum), PEMEX (Mexico's national oil company), IIE (institute of electric research), and ININ (National Institute of Nuclear Energy). Other sources of funding are based on R&D expenditure in the energy sector from 2000–2005, which are provided in the same CONACYT report (the variability in the funding is a based on data availability within this report). CONACYT documents do not mention “demonstration” activities, and this is why the Mexico data are referred to as energy R&D.

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Figure 10.

Government support for energy R&D in China,41 from China Statistical Yearbook on Science and Technology 2001–2009. Note: Government funding includes energy R&D expenditure for state‐owned enterprises in various energy‐related industries. For more detail, see Box 1.

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