The power industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by efficiency of power transmission over long distances, affordable prices of transmission cables, as well as minimization 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 656,000 patents filed and granted in the power industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in power: HVDC transmission. Buy the report here.

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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, variable speed gas turbines is disruptive technology that is in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Perovskite photoactive layering, power distribution control system, and CAES gas turbine are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are geothermal heat pumps and prepaid electricity metering, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for 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 80+ 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 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 HVDC transmission systems

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
State Grid Corporation of China 255 Unlock Company Profile
China Southern Power Grid 186 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 145 Unlock Company Profile
NR Electric 95 Unlock Company Profile
LS Electric 63 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom 54 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Information and Telecommunication 31 Unlock Company Profile
ABB 26 Unlock Company Profile
Nari Relays Electric 22 Unlock Company Profile
Nanjing Nari-Relays Engineering Technology 18 Unlock Company Profile
NARI Group 18 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Electric Power 18 Unlock Company Profile
Xuji Electric 17 Unlock Company Profile
Nanjing Nanrui Jibao Engineering Technology 16 Unlock Company Profile
Eaton 16 Unlock Company Profile
Xuji Group 15 Unlock Company Profile
China Three Gorges 11 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Shanghai Municipal Electric Power 9 Unlock Company Profile
Schneider Electric 9 Unlock Company Profile
NARI Technology 9 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 8 Unlock Company Profile
Hyosung Heavy Industries 7 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Sifang Automation 7 Unlock Company Profile
China-EPRI Electric Power Engineering 7 Unlock Company Profile
Power Construction Corporation of China 6 Unlock Company Profile
Guangzhou Bureau Of Extra High Voltage Transmission Company Of China Southern Power Grid 6 Unlock Company Profile
Smart Wires 6 Unlock Company Profile
XJ Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
POSCO 5 Unlock Company Profile
Delta Electronics 5 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Jibei Electric Power 5 Unlock Company Profile
TBEA Xinjiang Sunoasis 4 Unlock Company Profile
China Energy Engineering Group 4 Unlock Company Profile
Department of Atomic Energy, India 3 Unlock Company Profile
ALSTOM Grid UK 3 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 3 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 3 Unlock Company Profile
Hyosung 3 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 3 Unlock Company Profile
Qingdao Power Supply Company Of State Grid Shandong Electric Power 3 Unlock Company Profile
Solix Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Hebei Electric Power Supply 2 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Energy Saving Service 2 Unlock Company Profile
North China Branch of State Grid Corporation of China 2 Unlock Company Profile
Jiangsu Fangtian Power Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile
Changzhou Nr Electric Power Electronics 2 Unlock Company Profile
China South Power Grid International 2 Unlock Company Profile
PacketFabric 2 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President 2 Unlock Company Profile
China XD Group 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

State Grid Corporation of China, China Southern Power Grid, and General Electric 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 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.