The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the drive for greater energy efficiency, cleaner power generation and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, with the growing importance of technologies such as solar PV, wind turbines, battery energy storage systems and electrolysers for hydrogen production. 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: Hybrid PV plants.

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

Hybrid PV plants is a key emerging innovation area in environmental sustainability

Hybrid power plants are designed with the combination of two or more electricity generation sources to generate power or heat. This combination might also include a diesel genset, fuel cell or battery storage system.

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 hybrid PV plants.

Key players in hybrid PV plants – 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’.

Leading companies include, SMA Solar Technology (SMA ), a renewable energy company that develops, produces, and distributes photovoltaic inverters, choke coils, transformers, and monitoring and energy management systems for PV systems. SMA ’s applications include PV-Diesel Hybrid Solutions, Off-Grid Solutions , Large Scale Battery Solutions and Hydrogen Solutions.

ABB offers a wide range of products, systems, solutions and services related to the power industry. ABB ’s solutions, products and applications for solar, wind and Energy storage systems made the company a leading player in the hybrid power plant market.

Sungrow Power Supply (Sungrow) is a renewable energy company that manufactures power supply equipment for solar PV and wind power projects. The company's products include PV inverters, floating systems, storage systems, and accessories. It offers services such as construction, development, and operation management services, microgrid storage solutions, grid support storage solutions, and residential storage solutions.

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.