The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by automation, digitalisation of power infrastructure, optimising the performance of the power distribution network and improving the quality of the distributed power, and growing importance of technologies such as Smart Power Distribution Systems , Smart Grids , and Smart Metering. 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: Power distribution management applications.

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

Power distribution management applications is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Power distribution management is the process and collaboration of multiple departments to complete the operation and management of power distribution networks.

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 power distribution management applications.

Key players in power distribution management applications – 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’.

Itron is a technology and services company and is one of the key patent filers for power distribution management applications. Itron 's solutions include Distributed Energy Management , Distributed Intelligence and Distribution Automation.

Hitachi is another key patent filer for power distribution management applications. Hitachi ’s Power Distribution Systems offers solutions from basic to advanced distribution automation networks. This end-to-end offering includes Secondary distribution automation, Primary distribution automation, Network Manager, Asset and Work Management, and Communication Networks, and has applications such as Monitoring, control, measurement and protection, Fault and Outage Management, and Volt-var Management.

Mitsubishi Electric , Samsung Group , Alphabet , NARI Technology , and State Grid Corporation of China are among other key patent filers in power distribution management.

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.