The article analyzes the evolution of goals, objectives and instruments of state policy of Russia in the field of energy conservation and efficiency. A shift of responsibility from the federal to the regional level is revealed. Through various methodological approaches (spatial and structural heterogeneity, the energy efficiency gap and innovation theory) the causes extremely high differences in the energy intensity of the Russian regions are investigated. It is found that regions with more developed regional innovation system reacts to the removal of market barriers to energy efficiency by introducing a variety of innovations in the field of energy saving, which eventually affects the energy intensity of the economy of the region.
Keywords: energy efficiency, energy efficiency gap, the theory of innovation, regions, regional programs