The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the increased demand for solar energy and need for advancements to improve solar cell efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as prismacons and holographic technologies. 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 Environment Sustainability in Power: Solar cell protective films.

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, smart lighting system, PCM thermal energy storage and solid electrolyte fuel cell membrane are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Ceramic oxide nuclear fuel, geothermal heat pumps, and hybrid PV plants are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are combined-cycle gas turbines and ethylene co-polymer PV modules, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the power industry

Solar cell protective films is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Solar cell protective films protect solar cells from humidity, mechanical stress, high operating temperatures and environmental corrosion.

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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of solar cell protective films.

Key players in solar cell protective films – 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 solar cell protective films

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Eastman Chemical 57 Unlock company profile
Covestro 44 Unlock company profile
Asahi Kasei 34 Unlock company profile
Toray Industries 33 Unlock company profile
LG 27 Unlock company profile
Fujifilm Holdings 24 Unlock company profile
Toyobo 22 Unlock company profile
3M 20 Unlock company profile
Teijin 20 Unlock company profile
Kuraray 19 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Chemical 17 Unlock company profile
Mitsui Chemicals 15 Unlock company profile
Lintec 15 Unlock company profile
Treofan Germany 15 Unlock company profile
Samsung SDI 14 Unlock company profile
Ube Industries 12 Unlock company profile
DuPont de Nemours 11 Unlock company profile
Solvay 10 Unlock company profile
AGC 9 Unlock company profile
Arkema 9 Unlock company profile
Omya International 8 Unlock company profile
Dai Nippon Printing 8 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 7 Unlock company profile
Bridgestone 7 Unlock company profile
Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics 7 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 6 Unlock company profile
Shanghai HIUV New Materials 6 Unlock company profile
Advansa 6 Unlock company profile
BP North America 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Covestro, a German company, is one among the leading suppliers of premium polymers in the world. It offers a wide range of products across industries, including polyurethanes, polycarbonates and coatings and adhesives. Covestro’s Polyurethane elastomers and solar coating solutions ensure reliable energy generation and long service life for solar panels. Covestro, in partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has developed a nano scale solar technology resulting in their anti-reflective coating service for solar glass, which is delivering a potential 3 percent solar efficiency gain in the field.

3M is a supplier of advanced materials such as solar tapes, solar films and solar coatings for the solar industry. Their precision coated and structured solar films, namely Solar Encapsulant Film EVA9100, Ultra Barrier Solar Film and EPE Film, improve module efficiency and provide protection against moisture and other environmental stress factors.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Power.


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.