I want to assess the effects of energy saving technologies on output growth using time series data. My work would benefit from time series data on patents for energy saving innovations, but this is hard to find. I have time series data on energy service prices (not energy prices), which I am thinking of using as a proxy for energy saving technologies. Energy service prices appear to have declined over time and this is due to the improvement in energy technologies, mainly. Thus, I assume the energy service price data reflects the improvements in energy technologies.

Do you think the idea of proxying energy technologies with energy service prices is appropriate in an empirical analysis?

Edit: Price of energy refers to the price of energy carrier, say oil. Energy service price refers to the cost of providing an energy service, say heating or lighting etc.


A problem with using energy service prices is that they might reflect competition conditions (e.g. monopoly/oligopoly, or the big six in the UK) rather than the true cost of energy to firms.

A problem with using energy prices is that they might reflect demand and supply issues. For example, no one would say that the drop in oil prices from 140 to 50 was due to technological improvement. Instead, it was driven by a shale oil revolution, and perhaps geopolitical aspects.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I should have made it clear, the data is for a period of few decades in the 19th century. Also, not energy prices as noted above, I am considering energy service prices only. $\endgroup$ – london Aug 10 '17 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ @london let me know if there is something else I can add to my answer. This is an interesting area and a common issue when working with measuring/proxying technological change. $\endgroup$ – luchonacho Aug 23 '17 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ I am still looking for a measure of energy saving technologies. Highly appreciate your help! $\endgroup$ – london Aug 24 '17 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @london So you want to run a growth accounting exercise, where you regress output (or the "Solow residual") into a series of factors, including energy saving technology? Is there an underlying model that you have about it? Why would energy-saving technology increase output? $\endgroup$ – luchonacho Aug 25 '17 at 8:31
  • $\begingroup$ Long story is, I want to evaluate a set of growth determinants in a cointegration model within a production function framework. So variables include capital stock, labour and energy as well as annual patent counts for 300 years to proxy for innovative activity or technical change. In log log form, assuming a cobb-douglass framework, I should be able to estimate output elasticities of each variable. However, I want to pin down the effects of energy saving technical change along with the labour saving technical change. Where can I get data for energy saving technichal change $\endgroup$ – london Aug 26 '17 at 10:32

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