The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by stringent emission norms, substantial availability of gas, increased demand for power, and emergence of new technologies, and growing importance of technologies such as coal-based IGCC plants, IGCC with cogeneration, and IGCC based on biomass and wastes. 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: Combined cycle gas turbines.

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

Combined-cycle gas turbines is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Combined-cycle gas turbines, the exhaust from the gas turbine is fed into a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) to produce steam, which is later used in a steam turbine to enhance the overall efficiency of the power plant.

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 combined-cycle gas turbines.

Key players in combined-cycle gas turbines – 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 combined cycle gas turbines. Siemens is a technology company which has operations in electrification that offers power generation, power transmission, and infrastructure solutions. Recently, Siemens announced it would build a combined cycle power plant on a turnkey basis in Lombardy. Siemens ’s scope of supply includes an SGT5-9000HL gas turbine, an SGen5-3000W gas turbine generator, an SST5-5000 steam turbine, an SGen5-1200A steam turbine generator, a heat-recovery steam generator, and the T3000 control system.

In terms of application diversity, Kobe Steel leads the pack, followed by 8 Rivers Capital . By means of geographic reach, Exxon Mobil , General Electric and IFP Energies nouvelles are some of the leading patent filers in combined-cycle gas turbines.

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.