Welcome to the Energy I-SPARK value chain explorer tool: Energy Innovation, Strategy, Policy, and Research Knowledge for decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and analysts.
We developed Energy I-SPARK as a tool for decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and analysts who aim to assess the future development and adoption of clean energy technologies. The quality of energy-related technology assessments can be improved through improved understanding of the market structure and knowledge conditions of different steps of energy value chains as they connect to U.S. power markets. The market structure (e.g., industry concentration, extent of product differentiation, entry conditions, vertical integration, etc.) of a given value chain step is important to understanding several aspects of the future of a given technology, including: barriers or opportunities for new energy-related technologies and the presence of market power across the steps of an energy value chain. These factors have implications for modeling the price, quantity, and quality of goods offered for sale in an energy value chain and the likely effectiveness of policy instruments that price the negative externality of pollution, as well as for the rate and direction of technological change in each value chain step. The knowledge conditions (e.g., the nature of the knowledge generated and the extent to which the value of that knowledge is privately captured) of a given value chain step is important to understanding such issues as the knowledge barriers or opportunities for entrepreneurs and the expected impact of public investment in new knowledge in each value chain step.
What is Energy I-SPARK?
Energy I-SPARK is a curated data aggregation, research, and analysis enabling platform. It makes valuable market structure and knowledge condition information on energy value chains accessible to decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and analysts. The exploration interface that allows the user to compare industry value chains, gaining insight on their relation to policy and innovation. Data are presented in the following four major categories, described in detail below: 1) descriptive information, 2) innovative outcomes, 3) strategic conditions, and 4) knowledge conditions.
Energy I-SPARK is currently built primarily around exploring utility-scale solar and on-shore wind power as they feed into U.S. power markets. Note that we are still in the process of building and expanding this tool. In the future, we plan to add further detail to the components of the wind and utility-scale solar value chains, include value chains for other electricity generation technologies, and explore the activities of consumers of electricity. We also plan to add a query interface for presenting related information, both between industries as well as longitudinally within industries.
The descriptive information tab is intended to orient the user within the value chain; it provides a basic snapshot of the selected value chain segment. Generally, this includes a definition of the technology (or process) of interest, discussion of the primary firms contributing to the sector, and discussion of the relationship between the current step and the rest of the value chain. We include overview figures and charts where available and relevant.
The strategic conditions tab provides greater detail on the market players in the selected step of the value chain; it provides discussion of Porter’s five forces, as they relate to the value chain step (i.e., industry rivalry, threat of new entrants, threat of substitutes, bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of buyers). It includes data on firm market shares, revenue, metrics of production (e.g., units manufactured, installations completed, etc.), as well as discussion of the policy environment.
The innovative outcomes tab is intended to aid the user in exploring the results of innovative activity (e.g., the direction and rate of technological change) within the selected value chain step; it provides information relating to the dominant design of the technology (or process) and to emerging technologies and methods, allowing analysis of incumbents versus new entrants to the industry. We include data on costs, performance, production levels, and other quality attributes when possible.
The knowledge conditions tab focuses on the production of knowledge and knowledge spillovers relevant to the selected value chain step; it provides discussion of technology and non-technology based knowledge, patenting (or propensity to forgo patenting), and research and development.
How to navigate Energy I-SPARK:
The structure of Energy I-SPARK is based on the value chain below, which illustrates the flows of energy, money, and knowledge between the actors associated with the stages of production and operation of electricity generating systems.
At the top of this page, there are drop-down menus for Generation and Power Markets. Selecting an item from one of these drop-down menus will bring up a page with summary information on the value chain segment. After choosing a value chain segment, select a data category to view more detailed information. Data categories (descriptive information, innovative outcomes, strategic conditions, knowledge conditions) can be selected using the column of buttons to the left of this display window.