The power industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the global shift towards renewable energy sources, declining solar panel prices, and beneficial government policies, and growing importance of technologies such as concentrated solar power (CSP) and solar photovoltaics (PV). 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 Internet of Things in power: automatic solar trackingBuy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 70,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the power industry, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Automatic solar tracking is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Automatic solar tracking devices are a more advanced technology for mounting solar PV panels. The devices’ active sensors continuously monitor the sun’s position throughout the day, rotating the screen in the direction where the amount of sunlight is at its strongest and increase the performance and efficiency of the solar power plant.

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 200+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of automatic solar tracking.

Key players in automatic solar tracking – 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 automatic solar tracking

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Flex Ltd 79 Unlock Company Profile
Array Technologies Inc 50 Unlock Company Profile
Sunfolding Inc. 50 Unlock Company Profile
Abengoa SA 36 Unlock Company Profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung eV 35 Unlock Company Profile
CEWA Technologies, Inc. 29 Unlock Company Profile
Well Tech Services 27 Unlock Company Profile
AMETEK Inc 25 Unlock Company Profile
Tesla Inc 23 Unlock Company Profile
SolarReserve LLC 21 Unlock Company Profile
FTC Solar Inc 21 Unlock Company Profile
SolarEdge Technologies Inc 20 Unlock Company Profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 19 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens AG 19 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH 19 Unlock Company Profile
Exosun 16 Unlock Company Profile
Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt eV 16 Unlock Company Profile
Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd 16 Unlock Company Profile
Nevados Engineering Inc 15 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsui E&S Holdings Co Ltd 15 Unlock Company Profile
TM tech Co.,Ltd. 14 Unlock Company Profile
Driven Brands Holdings Inc 14 Unlock Company Profile
Sungchang Enterprise Holdings Limited 13 Unlock Company Profile
eSolar Inc 12 Unlock Company Profile
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 12 Unlock Company Profile
Tekniker S.A. 12 Unlock Company Profile
SolFocus Inc 12 Unlock Company Profile
Novatec Solar GmbH 12 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd 10 Unlock Company Profile
Shadecraft Inc 10 Unlock Company Profile
Qbotix, Inc. 9 Unlock Company Profile
Power Construction Corporation of China 9 Unlock Company Profile
Nexans SA 9 Unlock Company Profile
Nabtesco Corp 9 Unlock Company Profile
Airlight Energy Holding SA 9 Unlock Company Profile
TTP PLC 8 Unlock Company Profile
Daikin Industries Ltd 8 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines Corp 8 Unlock Company Profile
Paru Co Ltd 8 Unlock Company Profile
Arctech Solar Holding Co Ltd 8 Unlock Company Profile
The Boeing Co 8 Unlock Company Profile
Ecoppia Scientific Ltd 8 Unlock Company Profile
Suncore Photovoltaics, Inc. 8 Unlock Company Profile
Cosmo Energy Holdings Co Ltd 8 Unlock Company Profile
BrightSource Energy Inc 7 Unlock Company Profile
HelioFocus Ltd 7 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 7 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President China Holdings Ltd 7 Unlock Company Profile
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission 7 Unlock Company Profile
Moteurs Leroy Somer 6 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Flex Ltd (Flex) is a leading patent filer in the automatic solar tracking space. The company provides design, engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain services, including printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication. It offers consumer devices, optical products, power supply design solutions, solar tracker and software solutions, circular economy solutions, and distribution and logistics services. Flex markets its products and services under the Farm, Infinex, MCi, NEXTracker, Sheldahl, Sonderborg Vaerktojsfabrik, and Irumold brand names. In August 2023, NEXTracker and Asteelflash/USI announced the grand opening of Asteelflash’s US manufacturing line for Nextracker. In March 2023, NEXTracker signed a volume commitment agreement with Strata Clean Energy for 810 MW of solar trackers.

Some other key patent filers in the automatic solar tracking industry include Array Technologies, Sunfolding, and Abengoa.

In terms of application diversity, Shadecraft leads the pack, while PowerLight Technologies and SolarEdge Technologies stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, CEWA Technologies held the top position, followed by Siemens.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things in Power (2021).

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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.