The power industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by increasing demand for flexible or thin film electronic devices, and growing importance of technologies such as mono crystalline, poly crystalline, and thin-film technologies. In the last three years alone, there have been over 656,000 patents filed and granted in the power industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental sustainability in power: foldable solar panels. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

40+ innovations will shape the power industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the power industry using innovation intensity models built on over 70,000 patents, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, solar-powered charging stations, wind turbine performance monitoring, and renewable energy storage are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Foldable solar panels, solar thermal collectors, and geothermal collectors are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are wave energy converters and solar cell protective films, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the power industry

Foldable solar panels is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Foldable solar panels are innovative structures that convert solar energy into electrical energy through a charge controller. The foldable solar panels are attached to battery backups, which can store the electricity generated. Foldable solar panels with the advantages of low cost, size compactness, light weight, and shape transformation hold great potential as power sources for wearable and portable electronics, as well as integrated solar photovoltaics in buildings and vehicles.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of foldable solar panels.

Key players in foldable solar panels – a disruptive innovation in the power industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.  

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to foldable solar panels

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Beijing Apollo Ding Rong Solar Technology Co., Ltd. 22 Unlock Company Profile
Shadecraft Inc 18 Unlock Company Profile
Moixa Energy Holdings Ltd 16 Unlock Company Profile
LG Corp 16 Unlock Company Profile
Renovagen Ltd 15 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd 15 Unlock Company Profile
Bishop Ascendant Inc 14 Unlock Company Profile
Hanergy Holding Group Ltd 14 Unlock Company Profile
Zeon Corp 12 Unlock Company Profile
WiTricity Corporation 11 Unlock Company Profile
The Administrators of The Tulane Educational Fund 11 Unlock Company Profile
HADAL, INC. 9 Unlock Company Profile
Miasole Equipment Integration Fujian Co Ltd 7 Unlock Company Profile
Iworks Inc. 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group Corp 6 Unlock Company Profile
Ascent Solar Technologies Inc 6 Unlock Company Profile
Gandini Holding SpA 5 Unlock Company Profile
Flex Ltd 5 Unlock Company Profile
ams AG 4 Unlock Company Profile
Techniplas Inc 4 Unlock Company Profile
The Boeing Co 4 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Zon 4 Unlock Company Profile
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 4 Unlock Company Profile
Beam Global 4 Unlock Company Profile
BlueVolt Solar Pty Ltd 4 Unlock Company Profile
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd 4 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 4 Unlock Company Profile
AMETEK Inc 4 Unlock Company Profile
Redwire Corp 4 Unlock Company Profile
Liyou 4 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic Holdings Corp 4 Unlock Company Profile
ThayerMahan Inc 3 Unlock Company Profile
Solivus Ltd 3 Unlock Company Profile
Lear Corp 3 Unlock Company Profile
Sunstone IP Systems Ltd 3 Unlock Company Profile
Intel Corp 3 Unlock Company Profile
Ingersoll Rand Inc 3 Unlock Company Profile
EC Power 2 Unlock Company Profile
Triad National Security, LLC 2 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Boyang Dingrong PV Technology Co., Ltd. 2 Unlock Company Profile
Gridless Power Corp 2 Unlock Company Profile
Disco SA 2 Unlock Company Profile
James and Baker 2 Unlock Company Profile
Canon Inc 2 Unlock Company Profile
Avertronics Inc 2 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor Co 2 Unlock Company Profile
LIXIL Corp 2 Unlock Company Profile
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission 2 Unlock Company Profile
China Southern Power Grid Co Ltd 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Shadecraft is one of the leading patent filers in the solar panels industry. ShadeCraft is a technology and robotics company, a US-based developer of smart sunshade/umbrellas that are used to track the sun and absorb solar energy and shade. ShadeCraft launched its first product Sunflower at CES 2017, which integrates artificial intelligence and connects consumers to the internet of things. Some other key patent filers in the foldable solar panels space include Beijing Apollo Ding Rong Solar Technology, Moixa Energy, LG, Renovagen, Sumitomo Electric Industries, and Bishop Ascendant.

In terms of application diversity, ThayerMahan leads the pack, while Shadecraft and Bishop Ascendant stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Moixa Energy held the top position, followed by Renovagen and Sumitomo Electric Industries.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in Power.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.