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Did oil prices trigger an innovation burst in biofuels?

Guillouzouic-Le Corff, Arthur

Energy Economics, 2018, vol. 75, issue C, 547-559

Abstract: This paper documents an innovation burst in biofuels in the second half of the years 2000s, and empirically confronts it to the massive variations of oil prices between 1985 and 2009. Our results show that increases in oil prices greatly spurred innovation in biofuels. The elasticity of the number of patent families in biofuels with respect to oil prices is greater than 1, and holds both at the country and at the firm level. We find that the effect cannot be caused by the contagion of oil prices to cereal prices, an important input for biofuels. Similarly, we find that the effect is very specific: no such effect is found substituting oil prices with electricity prices, or substituting biofuel patents with biotechnology or environment-related patents. Delving into applicants' sectors suggests that specialized biofuel firms were less responsive to oil price variations than diversified firms.

Keywords: Biofuels; Renewable energy; Fossil fuel energy; Patents; Innovation burst (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O31 O33 Q41 Q55 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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