Carnegie Mellon University
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Effects of government incentives on wind innovation in the United States

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journal contribution
posted on 2013-11-01, 00:00 authored by Nathaniel Horner, Ines L. Azevedo, David Hounshell

In the United States, as elsewhere, state and federal governments have considered or implemented a range of policies to create more sustainable energy generation systems in response to concerns over climate change, security of fuel supply, and environmental impacts. These policies include both regulatory instruments such as renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) and market incentives such as tax credits. While these policies are primarily geared towards increasing renewable generation capacity, they can indirectly affect innovation in associated technologies through a 'demand-pull' dynamic. Other policies, such as public research and development (R&D) funding, directly incentivize innovation through 'technology-push' means. In this letter, we examine these effects on innovation in the United States wind energy industry. We estimate a set of econometric models relating a set of US federal and state policies to patenting activity in wind technologies over the period 1974–2009. We find that RPS policies have had significant positive effects on wind innovation, whereas tax-based incentives have not been particularly effective. We also find evidence that the effects of RPS incentives differ between states. Finally, we find that public R&D funding can be a significant driver of wind innovation, though its effect in the US has been modest.


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