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The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by rising environmental concerns to reduce carbon emissions and adopt energy efficient technologies, and growing importance of technologies such as absorption, adsorption, desiccant systems and solar hybrid inverter technology. 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: Solar air conditioning. Buy the report here.

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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

Solar air conditioning is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Solar air conditioning is a thermally-driven refrigeration process of converting solar energy into conditioned air by utilising a solar thermal panel to drive the refrigerant in the system instead of using conventional electricity. Whereas Solar Powered air conditioning would require solar modules, batteries and inverters to drive the air conditioners.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of solar air conditioning.

Key players in solar air conditioning – 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’.

Patent volumes related to solar air conditioning

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Johnson Controls International 19 Unlock Company Profile
Zinniatek 18 Unlock Company Profile
Gree Electric Appliances of Zhuhai 12 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 10 Unlock Company Profile
CEA 9 Unlock Company Profile
Light Quantum Energy Holdings 8 Unlock Company Profile
W&E International Canada 7 Unlock Company Profile
FTC Solar 7 Unlock Company Profile
Quantitative Heat 6 Unlock Company Profile
Well Tech Services 6 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba Mitsubishi-Electric Industrial Systems 5 Unlock Company Profile
TA Associates Management 5 Unlock Company Profile
VKR Holding 5 Unlock Company Profile
Royal BAM Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Monodraught 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Gree Electric started as a company that assembled residential air conditioners and has grown into a diversified global technological industrial group offering innovative solar air conditioning solutions such as a photovoltaic direct-driven inverter multi VRF system, GMV solar generation II and solar Hybrid Hi Wall Inverter Air Conditioner. It is one of the leading patent filers in solar powered air conditioning.

Panasonic and Johnson Controls International are amongst the other key patent filers in solar air conditioning.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Power.

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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.