The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by grid security, reduced peak loads, lower operational costs and increased integration of renewables, and growing importance of technologies such as smart grids and battery energy storage systems (BESS). 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: Renewable energy integrated microgrids.

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

Renewable energy integrated microgrids is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Renewable energy integrated microgrids deliver efficient, low-cost, clean energy and improve the operation and stability of the regional grid. Their function is to strengthen grid resilience, mitigate grid disturbance, and act as grid resource for faster response and recovery through deployment of renewable energy resources.

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 renewable energy integrated microgrids.

Key players in renewable energy integrated microgrids – 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 patent filers are Mitsubishi Electric and Siemens . In August 2022, Mitsubishi Electric was selected by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) for the supply of battery storage to four microgrids in its service area. The microgrid BESS projects has a total capacity of 39MW/ 180MWh, deployed across the four sites in San Diego in the communities of Elliot, Clairemont, Paradise, and Boulevard. Meanwhile, Siemens ' product SICAM A8000 series is a modular device range for telecontrol and automation applications in all areas of energy supply including reliable control of microgrids.

In November 2021, Acciona and Schneider Electric developed the first industrial microgrid in Spain. The microgrid combines the production of renewable energy on site, battery storage and charging points for electric vehicles to achieve maximum autonomy and optimise consumption in the grid.

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.