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 power generation system.

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 power generation system is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

A combined-cycle power system, 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 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of combined-cycle power generation system.

Key players in combined-cycle power generation system – 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’.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Mhi ) is one of the leading patent filers in combined-cycle power generation systems. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries manufactures a diverse range of heavy machinery. Its products and services include power plants, chemical plants, environmental equipment, steel structures, industrial and general machinery, shipbuilding, aircraft, space systems and air-conditioning systems.

Mhi offers solutions for social infrastructure in the areas of energy, including thermal, nuclear, renewable energies and the environment, including chemical plants. Recently, Mitsubishi has completed the installation and commissioning of a 500 MW combined cycle power generation system for the Muara Karang Power Plant in Indonesia.

In terms of application diversity, Mitsubishi , General Electric , and 8 Rivers Capital are some of the leading patent filers in combined cycle power generation systems. By means of geographic reach, E.ON and Hyundai Heavy Industries are some of the leading patent filers in combined cycle power generation systems.

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.