The power industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the increased demand for solar energy and need for advancements to improve solar cell efficiency, and growing importance of technologies such as prismacons and holographic technologies. In the last three years alone, there have been over 656,000 patents filed and granted in the power industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental sustainability in power: solar cell protective films. 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 stabilizing 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.

40+ 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 70,000 patents, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, solar-powered charging stations, wind turbine performance monitoring, and renewable energy storage are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Foldable solar panels, solar thermal collectors, and geothermal collectors are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are wave energy converters and solar cell protective films, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the power industry

Solar cell protective films is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Solar cell protective films protect solar cells from humidity, mechanical stress, high operating temperatures and environmental corrosion.

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 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of solar cell protective films.

Key players in solar cell protective films – a disruptive innovation in the power industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to solar cell protective films

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Eastman Chemical 94 Unlock Company Profile
LG 83 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 65 Unlock Company Profile
Kuraray 56 Unlock Company Profile
Covestro 54 Unlock Company Profile
Fujifilm 45 Unlock Company Profile
3M 40 Unlock Company Profile
Teijin 39 Unlock Company Profile
Asahi Kasei 38 Unlock Company Profile
Dow 37 Unlock Company Profile
Toyobo 31 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsui Chemicals 26 Unlock Company Profile
AGC 23 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung SDI 22 Unlock Company Profile
Denka 21 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Chemical 21 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Chemical Group 21 Unlock Company Profile
Ube Industries 19 Unlock Company Profile
BML 17 Unlock Company Profile
Treofan Germany 17 Unlock Company Profile
Bridgestone 17 Unlock Company Profile
Dow-Mitsui Polychemicals 16 Unlock Company Profile
DuPont de Nemours 15 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 14 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Seika Chemicals 12 Unlock Company Profile
Dai Nippon Printing 12 Unlock Company Profile
Solvay 12 Unlock Company Profile
Royal DSM 11 Unlock Company Profile
Sasa Polyester Sanayi 10 Unlock Company Profile
Sekisui Chemical 10 Unlock Company Profile
Daikin Industries 9 Unlock Company Profile
Arkema 9 Unlock Company Profile
Align Technology 9 Unlock Company Profile
Omya International 8 Unlock Company Profile
Toray Industries 8 Unlock Company Profile
Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 7 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai HIUV New Materials 6 Unlock Company Profile
BP North America 6 Unlock Company Profile
C. I. Kasei 6 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical 6 Unlock Company Profile
Hangzhou First Applied Material 6 Unlock Company Profile
Dow Silicones 5 Unlock Company Profile
Yum! Brands 5 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Polyester Film 5 Unlock Company Profile
Corteva 4 Unlock Company Profile
Nippon Steel 4 Unlock Company Profile
JX Nippon Oil and Energy 4 Unlock Company Profile
Kolon 4 Unlock Company Profile
Riken 4 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Eastman Chemical , Toray Industries , Kuraray, and Covestro are among the leading patent filers in solar cell protective films.

Covestro’s Polyurethane elastomers and solar coating solutions ensure reliable energy generation and long service life for solar panels. Covestro, in partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has developed a nano scale solar technology resulting in their anti-reflective coating service for solar glass, which is delivering a potential 3 percent solar efficiency gain in the field. The company completed construction of a new production facility in August 2023 for polyurethane dispersions (PUDs) in Shanghai, China.

Eastman Chemical produces Eastman Flexvue™ sputtered, conductive, reflective, and optically clear films for photovoltaic applications.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in 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.