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Renewable Technology Innovation Indicators: Mapping progress in costs, patents and standards

This report provides a valuable resource for policy makers and researchers by collecting data on a range of quantitative innovation indicators on the costs and performance of renewable technologies, patents and standards.


Clean energy technology innovation and research, development and demonstration (RD&D) plays a critical role in accelerating the global energy transition. IRENA has, for the first time, collected data on a range of quantitative innovation indicators on the costs and performance of renewable technologies, patents and standards; that provide a quantitative measure of innovation progress.

These indicators of innovation ‘outputs’ (i.e. new or improved technologies, processes and systems with lower costs), based on a methodology specifically created for the purpose, provide both qualitative and quantitative insights into the ways in which seven renewable energy technologies have progressed through time, either fully or in part due to RD&D activities.

This is a valuable resource for policy makers and researchers, given that the principal focus to date has been on gathering data on inputs into the innovation process (e.g. R&D expenditure). The metrics collected by IRENA open up the possibility of a much more rigorous comparative analysis of the relative performance of innovation support for different technologies. This could be a crucial support to policy makers, as insights from past experience can help inform innovation policy for the next round of technologies that need to be scaled up.

The report is divided into three sections:

  • In its first section, the report maps cost and performance indicators of seven energy technologies in the past ten years. It looks at solar PV, concentrating solar power, behind-the-meter batteries, onshore wind and offshore wind, hydrogen elecrolysers and large-scale solar thermal.
  • In its second section, the report dives deeper into the past 10 years of progress in offshore wind and hydrogen through the lens of patents and standards data. The visualisation of data is available in INSPIRE dashboard.
  • In its third section, the case study that combined all the indicators to holistically assess innovation progress is discussed based on the pilot analysis for offshore wind technologies. More detail on this is contained in the report Tracking the Impacts of Innovation: Offshore wind as a case study (June 2021).

This work was supported by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 899899). The project also contributes to the Mission Innovation Insights module.

In addition to the report, data dashboards on the cost and performance metrics are available for: