Energy Technology RD&D Budgets 2020

Tracking trends in spending on research, development and demonstration
In this report

The Energy Technology RD&D budgets database includes data on budgets in national currencies (in nominal and real prices), in USD (at latest year prices and exchange rates), in USD (at latest year prices and PPP) and in Euro (at latest year prices and exchange rates). Also, the database shows RD&D budgets and calculating indicators. The government energy technology RD&D budgets are submitted on an annual questionnaire every year to the IEA Secretariat by appropriate Administrations in national currencies. The exchange rates are published in Main Economic Indicators (OECD) and the GDP and GDP deflators come from the National Accounts (OECD).

Data service and documentation

In 2019, the estimated total public energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) budget for IEA member countries increased by 4% reaching USD 20.9 billion1. This was the third consecutive year of increase after four years of decrease; the 2019 level was one third higher than in 2008 and comparable to that of 2012, although much lower than the 2009 peak.

Total public energy RD&D budget for 

In PPP terms, the United States and Japan spent the most on energy RD&D among IEA member countries, followed by Germany, France the United Kingdom, Canada, Korea, Italy and Norway. The expenditure increased in 2019 for all those countries except Japan, where it fell by 2%. The figures also include the energy RD&D budget of the European Union under the Horizon 2020 programme, which is larger than that of all but two IEA member countries: the United States and Japan.

Public energy RD&D budgets by country for IEA members and the European union, 2019


Total public energy RD&D budgets per thousand units of GDP by countries for 2018


Total public energy RD&D budgets by country for 2019 or latest available year


Over the last 40 years, investment from IEA member countries in energy RD&D has become progressively more diverse. Nuclear power, dominant in 1974 with 75% of total public energy RD&D budget, witnessed year‐to‐year reductions to reach 21% in 2019, a share comparable to energy efficiency (21%), renewables (15%) and cross‐cutting RD&D (23%). RD&D budgets on fossil fuels, which were at their highest in the 1980s and early 1990s, have declined since 2013 (15%) to 9% in 2019.

Budgets for both energy efficiency and renewables grew significantly during the 1990s and 2000s, rising from 7% each in 1990 to 23% and 21% respectively in 2010. Since then, the share of energy efficiency has remained almost constant, whilst the share of renewables has declined to 15%. On the other hand, cross-cutting RD&D2 grew in the first decade of the 21st century. Budgets for hydrogen and fuel cells kept their share at 3% since 2012.

Evolution of IEA total public energy RD&D by technology, 1974-2019


In 2019, the United States overcame Japan with the largest RD&D budget for nuclear (USD 1314 million), while Japan remained by far the highest funder of hydrogen and fuel cells research (USD 297 million). In 2019, the European Union spent almost a quarter of its budget on the other power and storage technology (USD 461 million) being for this technology category a larger funder than any IEA country. For all the remaining technologies, the United States spent the highest budget.3

In 2019, the budget increased for all types of technology except for fossil fuels, which decreased by 4%. The highest increase was 18% for hydrogen and fuel cells which followed an increase of 25% recorded in 2018. The budget allocated to renewables significantly grew in Other IEA (14%), overpassing nuclear, mainly thanks to Norway, which increased renewable budget more than four‐fold with the demonstration project of a floating off‐shore wind plant4 (USD 242 million for off‐shore wind demonstration).

2018 and 2019 budgets by technology in selected IEA countries and the European Union


In 2019, public spending in low‐carbon5 energy technologies RD&D significantly increased in IEA member countries to reach USD 19.7 billion and 94% of total budgets, driving the third consecutive annual increase of total spending, after four years of decreases. Spending for non‐low‐carbon6 energy technologies stabilised to the 2018 levels just above USD 1 billion.

Evolution of public low-carbon energy RD&D budget in IEA member countries, 1975-2019


In line with this trend, most individual countries increased in 2019 their investments in low‐carbon RD&D. In the United States, low‐carbon energy RD&D budgets were estimated to grow by 7% with an additional USD 479 million; the second largest increase was in Norway (additional USD 242 million, linked to the wind demonstration project mentioned above). In an opposite trend to most countries, Japan decreased its low‐carbon budget by 2%.

Variations in public low-carbon energy RD&D budgets for selected IEA countries and the European Union in 2019

  1. All data in this publication are expressed in 2019 prices and purchasing power parity, or PPP, terms, unless otherwise specified. The total IEA budget does not include the European Union funding under the Horizon 2020 programme (USD 2.3 billion in 2019).

  2. Almost half of the 2019 US budget was allocated to cross‐cutting energy technologies and could not be broken down further. The cross‐cutting category mainly corresponds to what the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, reports under its Basic Energy Sciences.

  3. Data for the United States have been estimated by the IEA Secretariat for 2016‐2019.

  4. For further information about the project please refer to:‐stotter‐equinorsdemonstrasjonsprosjekt‐for‐flytende‐havvind/id2666182/.

  5. In the current IEA categorization of RD&D energy technologies, low‐carbon energy technologies are defined as: energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage (CCS), renewable energy sources, nuclear, hydrogen and fuel cells, other power and storage, and other cross‐cutting technologies and research.

  6. In the current IEA categorization of RD&D energy technologies, non‐low‐carbon energy technologies represent coal, gas, oil and other fossil fuel RD&D, excluding CCS.