The power industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by a number of factors, including the need for higher efficiency, lower emissions and increased reliability, and growing importance of technologies such as adaptive gas turbine blades. 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 Innovation in power: variable speed gas turbines. 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, variable speed gas turbines is a disruptive technology that is in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Perovskite photoactive layering, power distribution control system, and CAES gas turbines are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are geothermal heat pumps and prepaid electricity metering, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the power industry

Variable speed gas turbines is a key innovation area in power

Variable speed gas turbines are gas turbine engines that operate at various speeds or rotational velocities, and the power output of the turbine is varied by regulating the fuel flow rate. The gas turbine can change its RPM (revolutions per minute) depending on the application or operational conditions. These gas turbines provide greater flexibility and efficiency in power generation by allowing for varying speeds.

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 variable speed gas turbines.

Key players in variable speed gas turbines – 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 variable speed gas turbines

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd 273 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies Corp 187 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Corp 133 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric Co 95 Unlock Company Profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc 69 Unlock Company Profile
Ansaldo Energia SpA 63 Unlock Company Profile
Exxon Mobil Corp 26 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens Energy AG 25 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens AG 19 Unlock Company Profile
Alstom SA 17 Unlock Company Profile
8 Rivers Capital LLC 14 Unlock Company Profile
Searete LLC 13 Unlock Company Profile
Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd 12 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Electric Power Corp 12 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan Corp 12 Unlock Company Profile
GTLpetrol LLC 9 Unlock Company Profile
Fluor Corp 9 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi Ltd 9 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing DeepScience Technology Ltd 8 Unlock Company Profile
Airbus SE 7 Unlock Company Profile
Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault SA 7 Unlock Company Profile
Ansaldo Energia Holding Italia SRL 6 Unlock Company Profile
Deep Science, LLC 6 Unlock Company Profile
The Boeing Co 5 Unlock Company Profile
NiQuan Energy Trinidad Ltd 5 Unlock Company Profile
JMV GmbH & Co KG 5 Unlock Company Profile
Intellectual Ventures Management LLC 4 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba Corp 4 Unlock Company Profile
COSCO Shipping Holdings Co Ltd 3 Unlock Company Profile
Caterpillar Inc 3 Unlock Company Profile
U.S. Department of Defence 2 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH 2 Unlock Company Profile
Dynamo Micropower Corporation 2 Unlock Company Profile
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc 1 Unlock Company Profile
Tohoku Electric Power Co Inc 1 Unlock Company Profile
US Government 1 Unlock Company Profile
Linde plc 1 Unlock Company Profile
BB LIMITED 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is one of the leading patent filers in variable speed gas turbines. MHI manufactures a diverse range of heavy machinery. Its products and services include power plants, chemical plants, environmental equipment, steel structures, industrial and general machinery, shipbuilding, aircraft, space systems and air-conditioning systems. MHI provides social infrastructure solutions in the fields of energy, including thermal, nuclear, renewable energy and the environment, including chemical plants. Some other key patent filers in the variable speed gas turbines space include Raytheon Technologies, General Electric, and Ansaldo Energia.

In terms of application diversity, Airbus leads the pack, while 8 Rivers Capital and Groupe Industriel Marcel Dassault stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, 8 Rivers Capital held the top position, followed by Exxon Mobil and Fluor.

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.