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The IEA’s Energy Technology RD&D Budget Database allows users to track trends in spending by energy technology in IEA countries back to 1974. Data is collected from central or federal government budgets, as well as the budgets of state-owned companies, for spending on a range of sectors including energy efficiency, renewables, nuclear power, fossil fuels, hydrogen and fuel cells, and more. All figures refer to total public energy RD&D expenditure data, converted from current prices in national currencies to US dollar PPPs in constant 2017 prices, using GDP deflators and 2017 PPPs.
After 4 years of decreases, the total public energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) budget of IEA member countries finally increased in 2017, reaching close to USD 18 billion – a level not seen since 2014. The 7% year-to-year increase between 2016 and 2017 is mostly due to higher budgets allocated to low-carbon energy technologies.
Investment in energy RD&D has become progressively more diverse. Nuclear, dominant in 1974 with 74% of the total, witnessed year-on-year reductions, falling to just 19% in 2017. On the other hand, energy efficiency (23%), renewables (18%) and cross-cutting RD&D (20%) all increased their shares. Mirroring this trend, RD&D budgets on fossil fuels, which saw peaks in the 1980s and 1990s, have been declining over the past years, from 14% in 2013 to just 8% in 2017, their lowest share since 2000.
Among IEA member countries, the United States and Japan spent the most on energy RD&D, followed by France, Germany, Korea, the UK and Canada. With the exception of Japan, all of these countries increased their total public energy RD&D expenditure in 2017. Thanks to the Horizon 2020 Programme, the total budget of the European Commission ranks in third place when compared to IEA member countries.
Japan maintains the largest nuclear energy RD&D budget, both in absolute terms at 1.2 billion USD and as a share of total energy RD&D at 43%. In contrast, cross-cutting energy technologies represent a large share in the United States at 38%. Taken as a whole, other IEA member countries show relatively large shares of energy efficiency and renewables.
Reflecting analysis presented in Tracking Clean Energy Progress, spending in low-carbon energy technologies increased significantly in 2017, reaching USD 17.3 billion, after several years of decline. The largest IEA member countries carried this trend, recognizing the importance of further investment in low-carbon RD&D. Simultaneously, non-low-carbon energy technology spending continued to decrease, falling below USD 1 billion for the first ever.