The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need to shift dependency from fossil fuel to renewable sources of energy and meet carbon neutrality targets, and growing importance of technologies such as wave energy and offshore wind energy. 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: Wave energy converters.

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

Wave energy converters is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Wave power is a key renewable energy source and is harnessed from the motion of a wave. The kinetic and potential energy of a moving ocean wave is converted to electricity using wave energy converters (WECs).

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of wave energy converters.

Key players in wave energy converters– 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 wave energy converters

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Ocean Power Technologies 45 Unlock company profile
MURTECH 43 Unlock company profile
Marine Power Systems 17 Unlock company profile
Gravity Power 14 Unlock company profile
Oscilla Power 13 Unlock company profile
Ocean Harvesting Technologies 13 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 11 Unlock company profile
Subsea 7 10 Unlock company profile
Korea Electric Power 8 Unlock company profile
Quidnet Energy 6 Unlock company profile
Wavebob 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Ocean Power Technologies is one of the leading patent filers in wave energy converters. It recently has been awarded a contract with Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate on maritime domain awareness – sensors (MDA-S) Initiative. The company was selected for the Phase II development of a next-generation wave energy converter by the U.S. Department of Energy. Ocean Power Technologies partnered with Eco Wave Power Global and announced they are working to utilise their complementary technologies and skills to accelerate wave energy projects as an implementation of an agreement previously signed.

Other key patent filers in the wave energy converter industry include MURTECH, Marine Power Systems, Subsea 7 and Gravity Power.

The high cost incurred in installing a wave energy converter is the major setback for the technology and its large-scale application. This can be moderated by integrating WEC with offshore structures. Integrating wind energy and wave energy production can be another viable solution to this problem.

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.