The 2021 Global Energy Innovation Index: National Contributions to the Global Clean Energy Innovation System

The 2021 Global Energy Innovation Index: National Contributions to the Global Clean Energy Innovation System

Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are the pacesetters of the 34 countries covered by the Index make widely varying contributions to the global system

Innovation is the only way that the massive global demand for energy can be met while averting the worst consequences of climate change. National governments are the most important contributors to global energy innovation. The 2021 edition of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s (ITIF’s) Global Energy Innovation Index (GEII) provides a multifaceted assessment of national contributions to the global energy innovation system.

While public investment in clean energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) is essential, a host of additional steps must be taken to turn that investment into outcomes that matter in the real world. The GEII uses 20 indicators that measure both the level of the most recent year for which data is available and the change over recent years. They are aggregated into 10 functional categories and 3 subindices.


European nations dominate the top ranks of the GEII, with Finland topping it. Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom rank second, third, and fourth, respectively. Canada, South Korea, Japan, the United States, and Australia fill out the top half along with other European nations.

The GEII reveals the varied contributions nations make to the global innovation system. Denmark leads on the Knowledge Development and Diffusion subindex, while Finland ranks first for entrepreneurial experimentation and market formation, and the United Kingdom sets the pace for social legitimation and international collaboration. Japan, South Korea, and China contribute more through knowledge development and diffusion than other innovation system functions. The United States performs well in the entrepreneurial ecosystem category relative to its contributions to social legitimation.

A version of the Index using data that would have been available in 2016 is quite similar to the 2021 version (table 1). Half the nations moved no more than three places up or down. Norway improved the most, rising from 23rd to 11th. The United States fell the most, dropping 13 spots from 4th to 17th. Its rank fell across all three subindices, with the greatest decline (nine places) being in social legitimation and international collaboration


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