This study uses an econometric approach to investigate the role of IPR protection on renewable energy adoption using panel data of 102 countries at five-year intervals over the period 1990–2005. The Ginarte-Park index is used as a measure of the strength of intellectual property protection while the adoption of renewable energy is measured by the share of renewable energy in total final energy use. The results reveal that the level of intellectual property rights protection and reform of the intellectual property rights regime do not have significant impact on renewable energy adoption, suggesting that IPR protection is not a cause for concern in the global quest for clean energy transition. On the contrary, we find that trade openness has a stronger influence in the transition to clean energy. Based on the findings of the study, we conclude that IPR protection does not influence renewable energy adoption except in high R&D countries; rather policy makers should concentrate efforts on economic factors, such as trade openness, that drive the adoption of renewable energy technologies.