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Innovation in Energy Technology

Comparing National Innovation Systems at the Sectoral Level

image of Innovation in Energy Technology

This report reviews efforts under way in a number of OECD countries to advance innovation in energy technology, with a particular focus on hydrogen fuel cells. It compares energy innovation systems in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, the United Kingdom and United States to identify the roles of government, industry, universities and other public research organisations in the innovation process. It also examines the policies governments are implementing to finance needed research and development and to stimulate market demand for innovative energy technologies.

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Japan: Fuel Cells

Of the various types of fuel cells, polymer electrolyte (PEFC) fuel cells offer a highly promising option for Japan’s energy and environmental policies. Because the development efforts by Japanese government and businesses had centered upon other types of fuel cells rather than PEFCs until the mid-1990s, Japan was not in a leading position in the global race for PEFCs. Japan’s latest efforts in PEFC development are, however, confident and highly distinctive in the fact that they are being implemented through close collaboration between industry and the government. A study group of the Director General at one ministry promotes information sharing by the government, industry and academia, and makes recommendations, based on which the government creates research projects while industry establishes forums for exchange between businesses. The process is different from that of traditional government-led innovation in Japan.

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