The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by impact of greenhouse gas, net zero carbon emission goals and production of greener electricity, and growing importance of technologies such as carbon capture and storage, and battery energy storage system and grid integration of renewable energy. 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: Quantum dot solar cell manufacturing.

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

Quantum dot solar cell manufacturing is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Quantum dot solar cell manufacturing refers to solar cell that uses quantum dots to absorb the photovoltaic material. These cells are used to replace the bulky material such as silicon or copper indium gallium selenide and have the potential to reduce wasteful heat and capitalise on the amount of sun’s energy for conversion to 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 20 companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of quantum dot solar cell manufacturing.

Key players in quantum dot solar cell manufacturing – 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’.

Nanoco Group , a global leader in the development and manufacture of cadmium-free quantum dots and other nanomaterials, has filed a significant number of patents in quantum dot solar cell manufacturing. The company manufactures products such as CFQD® quantum dots and Nanoco’s HEATWAVETM quantum dots. The quantum dots can be tuned for use in variety of different media with adjustment of the surface ligands that opens them to several form factors and applications.

In terms of geographic reach of its patents, CEA , a key player in research, development and innovation in energy transition, digital transition, technology for the medicine, defence and security, was a leader. In September 2022, the company presented a report on linear silicon quantum dot arrays using FDSOI material at the VLSI Symposium.

Scoring high on application diversity, Sol Voltaics develops novel nanomaterials for enhancing solar panels and other products and focuses on improving the economics and efficiencies of solar PV modules with higher opto-electric conversion efficiency. It utilises company’s proprietary nanomaterial film and revolutionary Aerotaxy® nanowire manufacturing process.

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.