Patent Trends in Clean Energy Technology
February 17th, 2022
Today, the energy industry is responsible for nearly half of global greenhouse gas emissions. As such, various energy companies have been taking steps to create clean energy technologies, namely tidal, solar, and wind, to curb the effects of global warming across the globe.
Many of these technologies are currently being developed, which has led to an increase in patent applications for clean energy technologies. This increase is expected to revolutionize the energy industry and significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the globe.
The trend for developing clean energy technology is projected to continually rise over the next few decades to hit the targets for reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
The State of Climate Change and Patenting Clean Energy Technologies
Experts predict that nations that will be severely impacted by climate change are low-lying and developing countries. Low-lying nations are at a geographical disadvantage because of rising sea levels, while developing countries may not have the resources to adapt to climate change.
This is particularly concerning because major industrialized nations contribute the most to greenhouse gas emissions.
Global leaders pushed the need for the Paris Agreement because of a collective consensus that urgent action must be taken against climate change. They agreed that climate change is primarily driven by human action, and immediate global action is necessary.
Patent insights show how much innovation and development are happening in a certain industry. Insights into patents for clean energy technology are incredibly valuable because these help developers make crucial industry decisions and identify the behavior of competitors. Additionally, policymakers can make data-based discussions on strategies designed to fight climate change.
To keep better track of clean energy technologies, the European Patent Office came up with a Y02 classification scheme, which allows developers to quickly secure patents for their technologies and streamline the patent application process. This also allows data on clean energy patents to be more easily extracted.
Additionally, a study by the World Intellectual Property Organization analyzed 77,813 patents related to renewable energy technologies. Most of the clean energy patents filed came from Japan, the United States, and Europe.
An Analysis on Today’s Clean Energy Patents
The 2019 Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report found that investment in clean energy technologies has gone over $250 billion for each year from 2014 to 2018. Over the past decade, roughly $2.6 trillion has been invested in renewable energy.
To get a clearer picture of the state of clean energy investments, it is important to note that the investment shelled out in 2018 was significantly lower than the amount spent in 2017 as the various renewable technologies are becoming less expensive to produce.
The patents filed over the last decade show that more and more developers are researching and innovating new technologies to address the global climate change crisis. Patents for fossil fuel technologies, on the other hand, are steadily declining.
The leader in patent filing for clean energy technologies is China’s State Grid. Chinese patent filing, in general, has experienced a boom in recent years. Jinko Solar, Vestas, and General Electric are close behind, having also filed various patents to develop renewable energy technologies.
The Future of Renewable Energy
By 2024, it is predicted that the capacity of renewable energy sources will increase by 1,200 GW. This is four times the total electricity capacity of Japan, and it is equal to the electricity capacity of the United States.
If the market share of renewable energy technologies continues to grow at their current rate, solar and wind will hit roughly 45% of generated electricity come 2030. By 2033, it will hit 100%, which will significantly impact how energy is produced globally. More patents for renewable energy technologies will be filed over the next few years.
Acceleration in the development and execution of clean energy technology is necessary. Urgent action to combat climate change must be done to hit the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement. With combined action, the goal to effectively reduce carbon emissions is achievable.
It is expected that the number of patents for clean energy technologies will continue to rise over the next few decades, and the approval process for these patents will be more fine-tuned and streamlined over time. Additionally, renewable energy technologies are expected to become less expensive to produce, making them more accessible.