The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by the rising demand for clean and sustainable energy, and growing importance of technologies such as robotic solar tracking, smart solar tracking and advanced bifacial solar tracking using algorithms. 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 Artificial Intelligence in Power: Solar tracker.

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, power distribution system modelling, electricity supply distribution models, and AI-assisted power fault monitoring 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 prepaid electricity metering and home automation networks, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the power industry

Solar trackers is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

A solar tracker is an electro-mechanical system that allows solar photovoltaic panels or reflective surfaces to track the path of the sun to continually receive the optimal direct solar irradiance. 

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

Key players in solar trackers – 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’.

Flex 's affiliate NEXTracker is one of the leading patent filers in smart solar tracking solutions for PV projects of all sizes to transform plant performance with advanced data monitoring and analysis software and services. Its TrueCapture and NX Navigator smart monitoring and control software platforms have revolutionised tracker performance.

Sunfolding , a supplier of innovative solar tracking technology, offers a new TopoTrack™ solution using its airlink technology, which virtually eliminates grading for solar projects on variable terrain and maximises profitability by deploying trackers on land previously off limits to utility-scale solar.

Meanwhile, Ecoppia Scientific is the pioneer and market leader in connected, artificial intelligence and data-driven smart robotic cleaning solutions for single-axis solar trackers. Ecoppia ’s H4 with helix technology represents the pinnacle of innovation in robotic cleaning solutions and makes it unique in the market.

To further understand how artificial intelligence is disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on AI in 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.