The power industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the increasing adoption of renewable energy, increasing retail tariffs and decline in incentives, and increasing government support, as well as growing importance of technologies such as pumped hydroelectricity, electrochemical, and hydrogen electrolysis. 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: renewable energy storage. 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

Renewable energy storage is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Energy storage is one such mechanism of improving flexibility and maximizing the efficiency of the power grid. Renewable energy storage refers to the storage of electricity generated through renewable energy sources. The application of renewable energy storage is to provide services such as frequency regulation, load shifting, black start and ramping up. These storage systems play a crucial role in addressing the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources and ensuring a stable and reliable energy supply.

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 120+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of renewable energy storage.

Key players in renewable energy storage – 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 renewable energy storage

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Kobe Steel Ltd 91 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba Corp 50 Unlock Company Profile
LightSail Energy, Inc. 48 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 39 Unlock Company Profile
Wobben Properties Gmbh 25 Unlock Company Profile
Sunverge Energy Inc 21 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi Ltd 20 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens AG 20 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Controls International Plc 20 Unlock Company Profile
Next Hydrogen Corp 19 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus SE 15 Unlock Company Profile
Ingeteam Corporacion SA 15 Unlock Company Profile
China Southern Power Grid Co Ltd 10 Unlock Company Profile
Asahi Kasei Corp 10 Unlock Company Profile
Sungrow Power Supply Co Ltd 10 Unlock Company Profile
Augwind Energy Tech Storage Ltd 10 Unlock Company Profile
PowiDian 9 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic Holdings Corp 9 Unlock Company Profile
Basic Holdings 9 Unlock Company Profile
ThyssenKrupp AG 9 Unlock Company Profile
BASF SE 9 Unlock Company Profile
Rondo Energy, Inc. 9 Unlock Company Profile
Oracle Corp 8 Unlock Company Profile
Acciona SA 7 Unlock Company Profile
Storelectric Ltd 7 Unlock Company Profile
Land Business Co., Ltd. 7 Unlock Company Profile
Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC 6 Unlock Company Profile
Denso Corp 6 Unlock Company Profile
Schlumberger Ltd 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd 6 Unlock Company Profile
China Energy Engineering Group Co Ltd 5 Unlock Company Profile
Huaneng Group Technology Innovation Center Co Ltd 5 Unlock Company Profile
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission 5 Unlock Company Profile
RWE AG 5 Unlock Company Profile
AMETEK Inc 5 Unlock Company Profile
China Energy Investment Corp Ltd 5 Unlock Company Profile
The Swatch Group Ltd 4 Unlock Company Profile
Albion Acquisitions Limited 4 Unlock Company Profile
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne 4 Unlock Company Profile
Shell plc 4 Unlock Company Profile
Hebei Construction Investment New Energy Co., Ltd. 4 Unlock Company Profile
Ford Motor Co 4 Unlock Company Profile
EnBW Energie Baden-Wurttemberg AG 3 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Corp 3 Unlock Company Profile
Burelle SA 3 Unlock Company Profile
Hydrostor Inc 3 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Information and Telecommunication Co Ltd 3 Unlock Company Profile
National Energy Investment Group Co Ltd 3 Unlock Company Profile
Cheesecake Energy Ltd. 3 Unlock Company Profile
Spirax-Sarco Engineering Plc 3 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

[Kobe Steel, a manufacturer of steel products,  is one of the leading patent filers in renewable energy storage. It offers iron and steel, and aluminum and copper products such as steel casting and forgings, titanium, copper sheet and strips, welding products, electric power, and aluminum alloys. Kobe Steel developed its first domestic high-voltage air compressor in 1915 and has 100 years of history as an air compressor maker with domestic and international products. Some other key patent filers in the renewable energy storage industry include Toshiba, LightSail Energy, and State Grid Corporation of China.

In terms of application diversity, LightSail Energy leads the pack, while Haseltine Lake and Augwind Energy Tech Storage stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, LightSail Energy held the top position, followed by Wobben Properties, and Sunverge Energy. 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.