Do policy mix characteristics matter for low-carbon innovation? A survey-based exploration of renewable power generation technologies in Germany

Journal Article

Policy mixes may play a crucial role in redirecting and accelerating innovation towards low-carbon solutions, thus addressing a key societal challenge. Towards this end, some argue that the characteristics of such policy mixes matter greatly, yet with little empirical evidence backing up such claims. In this paper we explore this link between policy mix characteristics and low-carbon innovation, using the research case of the transition of the German electricity system towards renewable energy. Our empirical insights are based on an innovation survey administered to German manufacturers of renewable power generation technologies which builds on the Community Innovation Survey. For our purposes we adjusted the survey to better capture companies’ perceptions of policy mixes. Employing a bivariate Tobit model we find evidence that companies’ perceptions regarding the consistency and credibility of the policy mix are positively associated with their innovation expenditures for renewable energies, and this positive link intensifies when considering the mutual interdependence of these policy mix characteristics. In contrast, neither the comprehensiveness of the instrument mix nor the coherence of policy processes were found to be related to innovation expenditures. Overall, these findings suggest that future research on low-carbon and eco-innovation should pay greater attention to the characteristics of policy mixes, rather than focusing on policy instruments only. Finally, our findings indicate a need to consider how policy may be measured in innovation surveys to generate better informed policy advice regarding the greening of innovation.

Find out more about our work on ‘Policy synergies and trade offs for low energy innovation’.