Cahier 2019-09

Title:Mapping technological knowledge patterns: evidence from ocean energy technologies
Abstract:This article investigates the technological knowledge pattern underlying the recent evolution in ocean energy technology (OET) trajectories, especially tidal and wave energy, ocean thermal energy, salinity gradient energy and offshore wind energy. Examination of the relational properties among the knowledge elements in the OET knowledge base, in particular, their substitutability and complementarity, allows a better understanding of the coherence of this knowledge base and the technological trajectories within the sector. We use patent data extracted from the Questel ORBIT database. The various technical options related to OETs are identified by Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) codes and enable the construction of a dataset of OET patents granted between 2000 and 2015. We analyze the main trends emerging from the patent statistics and we construct a network of citations among OET patents and apply to it a main path algorithm. This allows a mapping of all possible streams of cumulative growth of technological knowledge and identification of the most important ones. We show that the knowledge base of OETs is split into two main families and technology patterns depending on whether the harnessing of ocean power and its conversion to renewable low-carbon electricity derive from physical or chemical science. OET trajectories are somewhat compartmentalized with few connections amongst them; however, there are links between some pivotal tidal and wave energy and offshore wind energy patents which have become the foundations to an OET knowledge base. By focusing specifically on the physics-based family of OETs, we can investigate the structural aspects of this knowledge base and analyze the aggregate level of complementarity and substitutability of its knowledge constituent. Our analysis partly confirms the increased coherence of the OET knowledge base over time but also highlights its fluctuating nature which in some ways mirrors the intermittent nature of ocean energy funding, further slowing consensus over designs which is key to commercialization.
Keyword(s):Ocean energy technology, citation network analysis, knowledge base, complementarity, substitutability, dominant design
Auteur(s) :Ma´der SAINT-JEAN, Nabila ARFAOUI, Eric BROUILLAT, David VIRAPIN
JEL Class.:O33, Q42, Q55

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