The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by a number of factors, including the need for higher efficiency, lower emissions and increased reliability, with the growing importance of technologies such as trapped vortex combustion (TVC), Rich burn, quick-mix, lean burn (RQL) and Lean Premix Pre-vaporised (LPP). 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: Gas turbine combustors.

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

Gas turbine combustors is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

A gas turbine combustor is a type of internal combustion engine in which fuel is burned in a combustion chamber that is located between the engine’s main air inlet and its turbine. The hot gases from the combustion process are used to power the turbine, which in turn drives the compressor.

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 gas turbine combustors.

Key players in gas turbine combustors – 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 , Siemens Energy, General Electric and Alstom were the leaders in terms of patents filed.

Mitsubishi Power has developed multi-nozzle, multi-cluster and diffusion gas turbine combustors that can be used for co-firing hydrogen blended with natural gas.

GE’s 7HA high efficiency air-cooled gas turbine is one of the industry leaders among advanced class gas turbine offerings and is available in three models—the 7HA.01 at 290 MW, the 7HA.02 at 384 MW, and the 7HA.03 at 430 MW.

Siemens ’ “state-of-the-art” gas turbine technology is lodged in its newest machine, SGT6-9000HL, a 60-Hz version. Siemens Energy HL-class gas turbines are paving the way to the next level of efficiency and performance

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.