How long does innovation and commercialisation in the energy sectors take? Historical case studies of the timescale from invention to widespread commercialisation in energy supply and end use technology

Robert Gross, Richard Hanna, Ajay Gambhir, Philip Heptonstall, Jamie Speirs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Recent climate change initiatives, such as ‘Mission Innovation’ launched alongside the Paris Agreement in 2015, urge redoubled research into innovative low carbon technologies. However, climate change is an urgent problem – emissions reductions must take place rapidly throughout the coming decades. This raises an important question: how long might it take for individual technologies to emerge from research, find market opportunities and make a tangible impact on emissions reductions? Here, we consider historical evidence for the time a range of energy supply and energy end-use technologies have taken to emerge from invention, diffuse into the market and reach widespread deployment. We find considerable variation, from 20 to almost 70 years. Our findings suggest that the time needed for new technologies to achieve widespread deployment should not be overlooked, and that innovation policy should focus on accelerating the deployment of existing technologies as well as research into new ones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)682-699
Number of pages18
JournalEnergy Policy
Volume123
Early online date10 Oct 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • energy technology diffusion
  • innovation policy
  • innovation timescales
  • low carbon innovation
  • mission innovation
  • technology commercialisation
  • commerce
  • energy resources
  • patents and inventions
  • commercialisation
  • energy technologies
  • innovation
  • low carbon
  • time-scales
  • carbon emission
  • climate change
  • commercialization
  • emission control
  • energy market
  • energy use

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