The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for power infrastructure improvement, increased efficiency and productivity, and optimisation of the power distribution network and growing importance of technologies such as advanced metering infrastructure, big data and digitalisation of distribution infrastructure. In the last three years alone, there have been over 439,000 patents filed and granted in the power industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in Power: Smart grid network protocols.

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 stabilising 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.

90+ 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 83,000 patents, there are 90+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, EV conductive charging, smart grid remote monitoring, and self-organising networks power optimisation are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Smart batteries, renewable energy integrated microgrids, and smart lighting system are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are home automation network power management and prepaid electricity metering, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the power industry

Smart grid network protocols is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Smart grid network protocols refer mostly to Internet Protocol-based networks in smart grid communications for identification of address of systems and devices. An IP-based communication protocol or network protocols delivers reliability, network flexibility and security to smart grid.

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 30+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart grid network protocols.

Key players in smart grid network protocols – a disruptive innovation in the power industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to smart grid network protocols

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Itron 110 Unlock company profile
Signify 38 Unlock company profile
Corinex Communications 30 Unlock company profile
Enel 30 Unlock company profile
Qualcomm 22 Unlock company profile
State Grid Corporation of China 21 Unlock company profile
Chargepoint 20 Unlock company profile
Trilliant Holdings 18 Unlock company profile
Cpi Integration Holdings 15 Unlock company profile
Sense Labs 14 Unlock company profile
V2Green 14 Unlock company profile
Kerlink 11 Unlock company profile
LG 11 Unlock company profile
Elbex Video 10 Unlock company profile
Valmont Industries 10 Unlock company profile
AT&T 10 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 10 Unlock company profile
Microchip Technology 10 Unlock company profile
Miitors 9 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 9 Unlock company profile
Schneider Electric 9 Unlock company profile
Consert 8 Unlock company profile
Duke Energy 8 Unlock company profile
Savant Systems 7 Unlock company profile
NEC 7 Unlock company profile
GS Yuasa 6 Unlock company profile
SHYFT Power Solutions 6 Unlock company profile
Electro Industries/GaugeTech 6 Unlock company profile
LS Electric 5 Unlock company profile
CommScope Holding 5 Unlock company profile
Toshiba 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Enel and Schneider Electric are leading patent filters in smart grid network protocols. In September 2021, Enel unveiled its company Gridspertise, a company dedicated to digital transformation of power grids. The company is focused to deliver metering and grid edge digitalisation, network infrastructure digitalisation and field operations digitalisation. While Schneider Electric’s comprehensive smart grid solutions promises effective, trustworthy grid management and monitoring. The company is adopting best practices to create a smart grid network model. This real-time model network will enable utilities to implement smart grid strategies such as managing demand and integrating renewable energy sources. Schneider Electric has built this model in an Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) based on accurate and up-to-date information of the distribution network infrastructure.

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


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.