The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by a number of factors, including the need for more efficient and cleaner burning fuels, the increasing cost of traditional fossil fuels, and the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the growing importance of technologies such as solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), fluidised bed gasifiers (FBGs), biomass gasification and coal gasification. 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: Fuel gasification. 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 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

Fuel gasification is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Fuel gasification is a process of converting organic or fossil fuel materials into synthetic gas (syngas). The gas can be used to generate electricity, heat, or hydrogen.

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 fuel gasification.

Key players in fuel gasification – 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’.

Patent volumes related to fuel gasification

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 81 Unlock company profile
Illuminate Buyer 55 Unlock company profile
Marubeni 52 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi 47 Unlock company profile
Southern 46 Unlock company profile
Sundrop Fuels 32 Unlock company profile
8 Rivers Capital 24 Unlock company profile
Halliburton 19 Unlock company profile
SK Innovation 19 Unlock company profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 17 Unlock company profile
Neste 17 Unlock company profile
Sundrop Ip Holdings 14 Unlock company profile
UPM-Kymmene 13 Unlock company profile
Tohoku Electric Power 12 Unlock company profile
Energy Research Centre of Netherlands 10 Unlock company profile
Hokkaido Electric Power 9 Unlock company profile
China General Nuclear Power 8 Unlock company profile
Wormser Energy Solutions 8 Unlock company profile
Shanghai Electric Group 8 Unlock company profile
Kansai Electric Power 7 Unlock company profile
Shikoku Electric Power 6 Unlock company profile
Hokuriku Electric Power 6 Unlock company profile
Chubu Electric Power 6 Unlock company profile
Electric Power Development 6 Unlock company profile
Kyushu Electric Power 6 Unlock company profile
Chugoku Electric Power 6 Unlock company profile
Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation of Japan 6 Unlock company profile
Babcock & Wilcox Enterprises 5 Unlock company profile
ConocoPhillips 5 Unlock company profile
Plasco Energy Group 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leaders in fuel gasification include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Marubeni.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) fuel gasification technology is based on the principle of partial oxidation, in which the fuel is partially oxidised to produce a mixture of gases including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and methane. MHI is committed to reducing its environmental impact and promoting sustainable development.

Marubeni is one of the world’s leading fuel gasification companies committed to environment sustainability having a long history of developing and commercialising clean energy technologies, including fuel gasification.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Power.

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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.