The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by efficiency of power transmission over long distances, affordable prices of transmission cables, as well as minimisation of maintenance and operation expenses and growing importance of technologies such as LoRaWAN, ZigBee and Sigfox . 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 Internet of Things in Power: HVDC Transmission Systems.

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, EV conductive charging, smart grid remote monitoring, and self-organising networks power optimisation are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Smart batteries, renewable energy integrated microgrids, and smart lighting system are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are home automation network power management, and prepaid electricity metering, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the power industry

HVDC transmission systems is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

High-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems are used to transmit large amounts of electrical power over long distances. HVDC transmission systems use direct current (DC) instead of alternating current (AC).

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 HVDC transmission systems.

Key players in HVDC transmission systems – 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’.

State Grid Corporation of China, China Southern Power Grid and Alstom are the key patent filers in HVDC transmission systems. In August 2022, State Grid Corporation of China revealed $22bn investment for executing a new batch of ultra-high voltage (UHV) power transmission projects across China.

China Southern Power Grid (CSG) has developed the UHV Flexible DC Converter Valve with large storage. The company manages all technical aspects of this technology.

To further understand how Internet of Things is disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things in Power (2021).

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.