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Assessing the industrial effects of the deployment of renewable energy technologies

When product identity matters

Juliana Barbosa, Margarida Fontes, Nuno Bento


Investment in renewable energy technologies (RET) produces impacts on economic activity and job creation that are fundamental to increase their social acceptability. This paper proposes a methodology to assess the transformative impact of RET on the industry. The paper combines contributions from literatures such as sustainability transitions, socioeconomic impacts of RET and economic complexity. We develop a conceptual approach to the way technology deployment can lead to changes in the industrial structure, centered on the notion of product heterogeneity. We apply this approach to the case of wind energy in Portugal (a successful fast follower), compared to three other main wind energy producers (Spain, Denmark, Germany). The results show a relationship between deployment of technology and the sophistication and the competitiveness of the “cloud of products” composing the industrial value chain. We propose measures for assessing the effects of energy technology innovations on the industrial structure, with relevance to policy.

Keywords: economic complexity; industrial effects; renewable energy; technology deployment.


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