The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for greater renewable power generation and battery storage and improved grid reliability, and growing importance of technologies such as lithium-ion batteries, lithium iron phosphate batteries, lead-acid batteries, and sodium-based batteries. 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: Battery energy storage system (BESS).

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

Battery energy storage system (BESS) is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Battery energy storage system devices are used widely for storing energy intended for later usage. Energy storage is a mechanism of improving flexibility and maximising the efficiency of the power grid. The application of energy storage is to provide services such as frequency regulation, load shifting, black start and ramping up.

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 battery energy storage system (BESS).

Key players in battery energy storage system (BESS) – 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’.

Siemens is one of the leading patent filers in battery energy storage systems. Siemens focuses on power generation and distribution, and intelligent infrastructure for buildings and distributed energy systems. It recently signed a letter of intent for the turnkey construction of a 100MW battery energy storage facility in Germany, one of the largest in Europe.

In terms of application diversity, Shell leads the pack. Mitsubishi Electric and EnerSys stood in the second and third positions, respectively. Based on geographic reach, Schneider Electric , ABB , LG , and Eaton are some of the leading patent filers in battery energy storage systems.

Project developers are building new plants more efficiently, with wind turbines and photovoltaic (PV) panels becoming cheaper owing to economies of scale, and storage technologies such as lithium-ion becoming more accessible with price decline and accelerated manufacturing.

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.