Norway, Finland and Japan Lead In Clean Energy Innovation

Sintia Radu

Fossil fuel still supplies around an estimated 80% of the global energy needs, yet in order to ensure successfully reaching goals to slow climate change, nations will need to expand access to clean energy. New research shows that not all countries are performing equally in this fight, with Scandinavian countries and Japan showing the most progress.

The top performing country in the world in the field of contributions to global clean energy innovation is Norway, followed closely by Finland and Japan, according to a recent report published by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonprofit public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C.

"Norway tops the overall Index, making the most significant contribution of any nation to the global clean energy innovation system relative to the size of its economy," say the authors of the report that ranked 23 countries. ITIF evaluated criteria such as the amount of public investment in research, development in clean energy and basic energy science, research, development and demonstration budgets and portfolios or the level of high-value patent applications for climate change mitigation technologies.

The United States ranked No. 4 in the ITIF report. Other countries in the top 10: France, Canada, Germany, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Denmark.

Other findings in the ITIF report:

-- Norway and Finland are also the only countries investing as much as experts recommend in public clean energy research, development, and demonstration.

-- The U.S. is still a global leader in overall spending that supports clean energy innovation, despite President Donald Trump's announced plan to withdraw the country from the Paris climate change accord. The country invested $6.8 billion in 2018, more than the next two countries on the list combined, China and Japan. The U.S. also invested more in basic energy science than all other nations combined, while ranking fourth in the world on a per gross-domestic-product (GDP) basis.

-- At the bottom of the list: the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Australia, Italy, and the Netherlands ranked the lowest among developed countries.

The ITIF report also showed that nine countries and the EU invested less than in 2015. The United Kingdom and Mexico, meanwhile, have increased their budgets for research, development and demonstration of clean energy, investing $0.15 and $0.06 more per $1,000 of GDP, respectively, than in 2015.

The greatest increase in spending is from China, which increased its investment in clean energy research and development by $1.4 billion. It is followed by the U.S., which reported an increase in its budget by $640 million.

Sintia Radu covers international affairs and technology for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter @sintiaradu and send her suggestions and ideas at