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Intellectual Property and Competition Law

The Impact of the German Feed-in Tariff Scheme on Innovation: Evidence Based on Patent Filings in Renewable Energy Technologies

Christoph Böhringer The Impact of the German Feed-in Tariff Scheme on Innovation: Evidence Based on Patent Filings in Renewable Energy Technologies Energy Economics 67.C (2017), 545 - 55301, 12.09.2017 (together with Alexander Cuntz et al.).

Over the last two decades, feed-in tariffs have pushed the massive expansion of electricity from renewable energy sources in Germany. Between 1991 and 1999, feed-in tariffs were prescribed through the Electricity Feed-in Law – the so-called Stromeinspeisungsgesetz (SEG) – at relatively moderate rates. From 2000 onwards, the SEG was replaced by the Renewable Energy Sources Act – the so-called Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz (EEG) – with much higher subsidy rates. The rise in subsidies to renewable power generation under the EEG came along with a substantial increase in electricity prices provoking an intense public debate on the benefits of renewable energy promotion. In our regression analysis, we assess one popular justification for feed-in tariffs: the demand-side effect of induced innovation. We find that the innovation impact of the German feed-in tariff scheme over the last two decades supports the positive innovation hypothesis. However, the inducement effect of the feed-in tariff scheme under the EEG is not significantly different from that of the SEG. Given the drastic cost of the EEG, we caution against the appraisal of the EEG feed-in tariff scheme solely on the grounds of its impact on technological innovation.

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