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 Robotics in power: automatic solar tracking. Buy the report here.
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 robotics
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 (2010 - 2022)||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 is a leading patent filer in automatic solar tracking. 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 810MW of solar trackers. Some other key patent filers in the automatic solar tracking space 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 Robotics in Power.