Between 2007 and 2010, the combined R&D budget of 15 major European energy suppliers increased by 40 per cent to more than €1.5bn, according to new research.
And from 2009 to 2010 the utilities raised their aggregate spending on R&D by almost €130m.
The data was compiled by the European School of Management and Technology, which used it to rank energy firms in its annual Innovation Index.
The index ranks innovation on research, productivity, and sustainability. On R&D, the biggest budgets belonged to EDF (€486m), GDF-Suez (€222m), Vattenfall (€172m) and RWE (€149m).
Over the last four years, major European utilities more than doubled their intake from new renewables generation, reaching an unprecedented 107 TWh in 2010. The largest input was achieved by Iberdrola (25 GWh), then Energias de Portugal (16), E.ON (14), GDF-Suez (13) and Enel (12).
Overall, the Innovation Index was topped by RWE, followed by EDF, Iberdrola, GDF-Suez and Energias de Portugal.
Frank-Detlef Drake, RWE’s head of R&D, said: “We are pleased about the outcome of the ESMT study. It is an acknowledgement and confirmation of our work but also a future incentive for our R&D departments and the patent team at RWE.”