The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the need for greater renewable power and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and growing importance of technologies such as wind turbine, battery storage and fuel cells. 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: Offshore wind farms.

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

Offshore wind farms is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Offshore wind farm refers to construction of wind farm in a body of water body, such as a sea, lake or river, to generate electricity. 

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of offshore wind farms.

Key players in offshore wind farms – 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’.

General Electric (GE ) is one of the leading patent filers for offshore wind farms. The company designs, manufactures, installs, and provides services to offshore wind turbines. Its Haliade-X offshore wind turbine is one of the most powerful offshore wind turbines in the industry. GE ’s offshore wind services include corrective offshore wind maintenance, predictive offshore wind maintenance, preventative offshore wind maintenance and “LIFESPAN” a digital product portfolio that enables customers to maximise wind farms performance and operations.  

SBM Offshore is one of the key patent filers for offshore wind farms. The company designs, supplies, installs, and operates floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels. SBM Offshore is testing an innovative floating structure for offshore wind farms with its experience in the offshore industry. 

Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, Equinor , Subsea 7 , Ocean Power Technologies and Envision Energy (Denmark), are amongst the other key patent filers. 

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.