The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by power infrastructure improvement and digitalisation for managing the complex power systems effectively and intelligently, while lowering the carbon footprint, and growing importance of technologies such as advanced metering infrastructure systems, integration of distributed renewable energy resources, grid modernisation and energy storage. 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: Smart grid power line communication.

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

Smart grid power line communication is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Power-line communication (PLC) uses electricity infrastructure for data transmission that carries data on a conductor and is also used for electric power distribution to consumers simultaneously. A wide range of PLC technologies are used for different applications, depending on the frequency band used such as Narrowband PLC, Mid-band PLC, and Broadband PLC.

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 smart grid power line communication.

Key players in smart grid power line communication – 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’.

Corinex Communications is one of the leading patent filers in smart grid power line communication. The company provides broadband-power-line (BPL solutions) to energy companies, including electric utilities, EV manufacturers, and EV charging providers. The company recently announced the latest release of GridValue Elements Management Software (EMS ), its grid management SaaS. The new release delivers improved public key infrastructure (PKI) for up to five million nodes, speed and performance enhancements, and full support for new G.hn devices, which are capable of near real-time network operations speeds.

Some other key patent filers in the smart grid PLC industry include ABB , Electricite de France , General Electric , Siemens , Fronius International , Panasonic , Zumtobel Group , Schneider Electric , and Eaton .

In terms of application diversity, OVH Groupe leads the pack, followed by Franklin Electric and NEC in the second and third positions, respectively. By geographic reach, Schneider Electric held the top position, followed by Panasonic and Zumtobel Group .

Building a hybrid network of PLC and Wi-Fi has potentially become a viable option for benefitting from both technologies. PLC technology enables quick and low-cost network construction reducing the types of cables used in a network.

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.