The power industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by scarcity of natural water supplies and the rise in demand for consumable water due to rising populations, urbanization and end-use industrialization, as well as growing importance of technologies such as thermal and membrane technologies. In the last three years alone, there have been over 656,000 patents filed and granted in the power industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental sustainability in power: solar-powered desalination. Buy the report here.
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 stabilizing 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.
40+ 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 70,000 patents, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, solar-powered charging stations, wind turbine performance monitoring, and renewable energy storage are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Foldable solar panels, solar thermal collectors, and geothermal collectors are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are wave energy converters and solar cell protective films, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the power industry
Solar-powered desalination is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability
Desalination is a technique used for extracting minerals from saline water. Solar desalination is a technique to desalinate water using solar energy. Solar desalination can be accomplished either directly or indirectly. Sunlight may produce heat for evaporative desalination procedures, and for some indirect methods, it can also be converted into electricity to power a membrane process. The four stages in solar desalination include pre-treatment, reverse osmosis, post-treatment, storage and distribution.
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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of solar-powered desalination.
Key players in solar-powered desalination – a disruptive innovation in the power industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to solar-powered desalination
|Company||Total patents (2010 - 2022)||Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies|
|Surrey Aquatechnology, Ltd.||53||Unlock Company Profile|
|MURTECH, INC.||33||Unlock Company Profile|
|Transocean Ltd||27||Unlock Company Profile|
|First Green Park Pty Ltd||15||Unlock Company Profile|
|Oneka Technologies Inc||14||Unlock Company Profile|
|Electricite de France SA||11||Unlock Company Profile|
|Saltworks Technologies Inc.||11||Unlock Company Profile|
|General Electric Co||11||Unlock Company Profile|
|Hitachi Ltd||11||Unlock Company Profile|
|Natural Ocean Well Co.||10||Unlock Company Profile|
|Ebara Corp||10||Unlock Company Profile|
|AW-Energy Oy||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|Xerox Holdings Corp||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|Oceanus Power and Water LLC||9||Unlock Company Profile|
|State Grid Corporation of China||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Siemens AG||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sala Corp||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sunlight Photonics, Inc.||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Xi'An Xire Energy Saving Technology Co Ltd||8||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sylvan Source Inc||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|Lockheed Martin Corp||7||Unlock Company Profile|
|ABB Ltd||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|Hengli Group Co Ltd||6||Unlock Company Profile|
|Bl Technologies, Inc.||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|China Southern Power Grid Co Ltd||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|TotalEnergies SE||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Uni-President China Holdings Ltd||5||Unlock Company Profile|
|Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt eV||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Mangrove Water Technologies Inc||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Advanced Innergy Ltd||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|M Hikari & Energy Laboratory Co Ltd||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|State Grid International Development Ltd||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Kenergy Inc.||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|China General Nuclear Power Corp||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|LightSail Energy, Inc.||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek NV||4||Unlock Company Profile|
|Korea Electric Power Corp||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sunvapor Inc||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Sasakura Engineering Co Ltd||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Saudi Arabian Oil Co||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|KSB Aktiengesellschaft||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Changsha Zichen Technology Development Co Ltd||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|DeepWater Desal LLC||3||Unlock Company Profile|
|Halliburton Co||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|State Grid Information and Telecommunication Co Ltd||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Oscilla Power Inc||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Quidnet Energy Inc.||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Empire Technologies||2||Unlock Company Profile|
|Zhoushan Zhihai Technology Development Co Ltd||2||Unlock Company Profile|
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Surrey Aquatechnology is a leading patent filer in the solar-powered desalination space. The company develops processes for the osmotic treatment of water, which include the desalination of seawater for potable water, the treatment of water produced from the desalination process and the preparation of water for re-injection for use in the oil industry. Osmosis technology can be used in the construction of new and integrated into existing thermal desalination and reverse osmosis desalination plants, reducing the capital costs, the footprint and the operating costs of such plants. Some other key patent filers in the solar powered-desalination space include MURTECH, Oneka Technologies, and Hitachi.
In terms of application diversity, Transocean leads the pack, while Honeywell International and AECOM stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Saltworks Technologies and General Electric are the leading companies.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in Power.