The power industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by increasing global power demand, renewable energy auctions, and the growing importance of technologies such as offshore wind turbines, floating platforms, and interconnectors. 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: offshore wind farms. 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

Offshore wind farms is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Wind power results from the conversion of wind flow into a useful form of energy through turbines, water pumping, and windmills, which transform mechanical energy. It is classified into onshore and offshore. Offshore wind power is generated through wind turbines erected in the water body, usually at sea or ocean on a foundation/platform and supplied into the electricity network onshore.

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 130+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of offshore wind farms.

Key players in offshore wind farms – 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 offshore wind farms

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd 70 Unlock Company Profile
Equinor ASA 42 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric Co 34 Unlock Company Profile
Single Buoy Moorings 33 Unlock Company Profile
Marine Power Systems Ltd 30 Unlock Company Profile
Modec Limited 29 Unlock Company Profile
IFP Energies nouvelles 26 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi Ltd 24 Unlock Company Profile
Makani Technologies LLC 23 Unlock Company Profile
Vestas Wind Systems AS 23 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens AG 20 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd 20 Unlock Company Profile
GWave LLC 19 Unlock Company Profile
RWE AG 18 Unlock Company Profile
Minesto AB 17 Unlock Company Profile
Novige AB 17 Unlock Company Profile
Toda Corp 15 Unlock Company Profile
Envision Energy (Denmark) Aps 14 Unlock Company Profile
Orbital Marine Power Ltd 14 Unlock Company Profile
Ocean Power Technologies Inc 14 Unlock Company Profile
Exponential Renewables S.L. 14 Unlock Company Profile
Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co Ltd 14 Unlock Company Profile
Occidental Petroleum Corp 13 Unlock Company Profile
Havkraft AS 13 Unlock Company Profile
Subsea 7 SA 13 Unlock Company Profile
Iberdrola SA 12 Unlock Company Profile
Japan Marine United Corp 12 Unlock Company Profile
Aerodyn Engineering Gmbh 12 Unlock Company Profile
TechnipFMC Plc 12 Unlock Company Profile
Single Buoy Moorings INC 11 Unlock Company Profile
X Development LLC 11 Unlock Company Profile
Big Moon Power LLC 11 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Electric Group Corp 11 Unlock Company Profile
Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd 11 Unlock Company Profile
SBM Offshore NV 10 Unlock Company Profile
BW Offshore Ltd 10 Unlock Company Profile
Esteyco SAP 9 Unlock Company Profile
NOV Inc 9 Unlock Company Profile
Floating Windfarms Corporation 8 Unlock Company Profile
TotalEnergies SE 8 Unlock Company Profile
Hydra Tidal Energy Technology AS 8 Unlock Company Profile
Sustainable Marine Energy Ltd 7 Unlock Company Profile
Axis Energy Projects Ltd 7 Unlock Company Profile
Triton Systems, Inc. 7 Unlock Company Profile
First Tech, Ltd. 7 Unlock Company Profile
Hexicon AB 6 Unlock Company Profile
Wello Oy 6 Unlock Company Profile
The Boeing Co 6 Unlock Company Profile
Naval Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Norsk Hydro ASA 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is one of the leading patent filers in offshore wind farms.  MHI provides social infrastructure solutions in the fields of energy, including thermal, nuclear, renewable energy and the environment, including chemical plants. In June 2023, MHI Vestas Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Vestas Wind Systemsand MHI provided bottom-fixed turbines for Marubeni’s 84MW Noshiro Port and 55MW Akita Port offshore wind farms. Some other key patent filers in the offshore wind farms space include Equinor, General Electric, and Single Buoy Moorings.

In terms of application diversity, Havkraft leads the pack, while Sustainable Marine Energy and Oceana Energy stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, GWave held the top position, followed by Minesto and Novige.

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.