Patent trends in the renewable energy landscape

Our IP attorneys are more than just clause machines, they constantly keep themselves updated with what is happening in the industry. In the article below our solar technology expert, Matteo Biancardo, presents the latest patent trends in the renewable energy industry.

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time. A global adoption of climate change mitigation and adaptation technology (generally abbreviated as CCMT) such as biofuels, solar thermal, wind power and solar photovoltaics is of vital importance.

According to International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)1 patents are important instruments to map out patterns in renewable energy technologies (RETs). Along this line, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has commissioned a study to Cambridge IP, which was released in June 2014, showing interesting patent trends in CCMTs2.

From the highlights of these studies, combined with other relevant studies3 on the temporal trends in energy patents, we share the following conclusions.

Renewable energy patent filings dominated by Asia
In the last 30 years, patent activities have increased within the fields of biofuels, solar thermal, photovoltaic and wind power.

From 2006 to 2011, innovation and patent filing rates in the above-mentioned sectors grew by 24% annually and outpaced the 6% global average increase in patent filing. The highest rate of technology investment is the solar PV sector and the top 20 technology owners are based in Asia.

However, the concentration of patents has decreased across three of the four CCMT sectors, which reflects a higher competition between players. Furthermore, it shows an increase in the number of patent proprietors. Only wind technology has kept the similar patent concentration.

The impact of public funding
During the period 1974-20093, temporal trends in energy patents showed a rapid growth over the last decade, where the greatest increases for patents were related to renewable energy. One could expect this to be caused by the different public funding programs initiated as a result of the 1970s energy crisis. However, public funding for energy R&D increased dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s, but then remained relatively constant in following years.

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Bettencourt et al. Plus One, 2013, 8, 10

Read the full article “Patent Trends In The Renewable Energy Landscape” by Matteo Biancardo here