Call for Papers - Economics of Innovation in the Energy Sector
The last two decades witnessed massive innovations in how energy is generated and used. Hydraulic fracturing transformed global oil and natural gas markets, leading to sharp declines in the prices of some fossil fuels. Natural gas replaced coal as the primary fuel for electricity generation, helping to reduce carbon emissions. Solar photovoltaic prices plummeted, and new storage technologies that could make renewable energy generation more practical in large parts of the globe moved from the laboratory bench to demonstration projects. Despite these advances, achieving the extensive emission reductions required to transition to a low-carbon economy requires still greater innovation. Many questions remain about the determinants of technological change in the energy sector, and about the factors that support or hold back breakthrough energy technologies.
To promote research on these issues, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will convene a research conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts on March 17-18, 2022. The conference will feature presentations of seven research projects on energy innovation. It will be the third meeting in a multi-year initiative on the economics of innovation in the energy sector that is directed by Ashley Langer (University of Arizona and NBER) and David Popp (Syracuse University and NBER).
The conference will draw together researchers from energy economics, innovation, industrial organization, productivity, and other related fields to address issues concerning innovation in the energy sector, with an emphasis on policies that affect the likelihood of breakthrough energy innovations that would move toward a low-carbon economy. The types of questions that could be studied include:
• What are the historical determinants of energy transitions?
• What are the respective roles of the public and private sectors in energy technology innovation?
• How do innovation policies interact with other energy policies, such as regulations on energy transportation or trade flows, and with environmental policies?
• How does innovation policy interact with unintended environmental consequences of new developments in energy-related sectors?
• How does market structure influence energy innovation? Does innovation respond to policy and market signals differently in regulated and unregulated energy markets?
• What are the consequences of using technology-specific or technology-neutral policies? How does economic evidence inform the choice of technology-specific or technology neutral policies?
• How might energy innovation respond to a changing climate?
The organizers will consider proposals for both theoretical and empirical papers on these and other related topics from researchers with and without NBER affiliations. Proposals from scholars who are early in their careers, and from researchers from under-represented groups are especially welcome. Please do not submit papers that will be published by March 2022. Proposals will be evaluated by a committee consisting of the project organizers, David Hémous (University of Zurich), and Catherine Wolfram (University of California-Berkeley and NBER).
To be considered for inclusion on the program, abstracts of no more than two pages uploaded by midnight (EST) on Tuesday June 1, 2021, to the following site:
All proposals must be accompanied by a comprehensive conflict of interest statement that describes any financial or other interests of the researchers that might bear on the proposed work, in particular any financial ties to the energy industry. Decisions about which papers will be included on the program will be announced in July 2021.
Interested authors may also apply to attend an on-line brainstorming workshop on April 23, 2021. This workshop will highlight the research already funded by this initiative, and will feature keynote lectures by innovation scholars Ben Jones (Northwestern University) and Scott Stern (MIT). It will provide a forum for discussing the key hurdles to research on energy innovation. This on-line workshop will help researchers that are new to energy innovation make connections and generate ideas for submission to the March 2022 conference. In order to increase the range of scholars who can attend this workshop, researchers who are potentially interested in submitting proposals to the March 2022 conference should submit research idea abstracts of no more than 250 words by midnight (EST) on Monday March 22, 2021 to the following site:
Researchers will be invited to the April 23, 2021 conference based on these submissions.
NBER will provide a modest honorarium to authors in the March 2022 conference, and can also provide some support for project-related data purchase. The NBER will cover conference hotel charges and economy class travel cost for up to two authors per selected paper. All co-authors are welcome to attend the conference; space permitting, other participants are also welcome. Please direct questions about this project to firstname.lastname@example.org.