The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by rising demand for renewable energy, lower maintenance costs and optimised power output, and growing importance of technologies such as wind turbine generators, power electronic converters and SCADA systems. 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: Wind turbine control circuits.

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

Wind turbine control circuits is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

A wind turbine control circuit provides better and more efficient electricity conversion. It optimises or controls a wind turbine by controlling the generator speed, blade angle adjustment (or pitch control), and rotation of the entire wind turbine (or yaw control), through a circuit.

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 wind turbine control circuits.

Key players in wind turbine control circuits – 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’.

Vestas Wind Systems is one of the leading technology providers in the wind power industry and a leading patent filer. Vestas is using artificial intelligence (AI) to recapture lost energy due to turbine wake effects and generating more energy from wind turbines through wake-steering systems using a Microsoft platform.

Other key patent filers in the wind energy industry include Mitsubishi Heavy Industries , Senvion , Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Suzlon Energy .

A robust wind energy control system maximises energy production while keeping the speed and load constraints controlled. It also provides a safe operation of the system with better turbine life.

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