innovation indicators

Innovation indicators

Innovation indicators, such as metrics deriving from data on patents and standards, provide essential evidence to track progress made in energy technology development.


IRENA has developed the interactive online data platform International Standards and Patents in Renewable Energy (INSPIRE). It offers information on international standards and patents related to renewable energy technologies and is a free-to-access web tool developed to monitor innovation trends, front-runner countries and leading technology organisations via standards and patents data analytics. INSPIRE offers useful metrics that can be translated into valuable insights for policy makers, entrepreneurs and other key stakeholders in the energy sector.

Monitoring the development of renewable energy technologies is instrumental in evaluating the status of the global energy transition. It also enables an assessment of whether stringent environmental targets have advanced the diffusion of these technologies and associated market opportunities. Greater consciousness of the status of technological development can inform the amendment of existing targets and allow countries to evaluate their international competitiveness in the field of renewables.

Data on patents and international technical standards can be used to detect global trends in the development of renewable technologies, as they provide insights into technological progress. Patent and standard data offer the fundamental sources of quantitative information for the analysis of the different layers in the innovation process of RETs.

A patent is a legal title that grants to its holder the right to prevent others from exploiting an invention for commercial purposes, without authorization. A patent is valid in a given jurisdiction for a limited time, usually 20 years. Patents are granted for inventions that are new and bring an inventive step concerning industrial applications. Patent data give detailed bibliographic information on the inventions produced to develop RETs: from names, country and region of residence of patent applicants to where and when a patent application is filed. Patent data provide an objective and evidence-based overview of the status of global inventiveness, instrumental in studying technological progress and evolution over time.

International technical standard is a document that emerge from internationally harmonized requirements for the development of a reliable and effective design, production and use of technologies. Standards are developed based on consensus among experts and approved by some recognized bodies and aim to increase quality and safety of technologies, thereby enabling acceptance, transfer and financial support. Standards create conditions for broader technology deployment and commercialisation, and represent an indirect sign of technological progress and readiness.