The existential threat posed by climate change has led to increasing interest and optimism among policy makers in driving renewable energy innovation (Maxwell, 2009). And yet, such predictions are hard to reconcile with historic trends in renewable energy innovation that indicate there has been minimal allocation of innovative effort. For instance, from 1978-2003, only 2% of utility patents filed in the U.S. were in the renewable energy sector (Johnstone et al., 2008). In this empirical study, we therefore examine how the propensity of inventors to patent in renewable energy is driven by a combination of micro (e.g. inventor demographics), meso (e.g. small word regional inventor networks), and macro (e.g. federal policies) level factors.