The power industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the need for growth in renewable power generation, and growing importance of technologies such as geared turbofan engines (GTF), continuously variable transmissions (CVT) and magnetic levitated bearings. 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: wind turbine gearbox. 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 77,000 patents, there are 40+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, variable speed gas turbines is 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 turbine 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

Wind turbine gearboxes are a key emerging innovation area in environmental sustainability

A gearbox is typically used in wind turbines to transform low-speed, high-torque wind turbine rotation to a higher speed required by the generator. Generally, for wind turbine gearbox, operational conditions are challenging, and life expectations are high.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of wind turbine gearbox.

Key players in wind turbine gearboxes – 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 wind turbine gearboxes

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Zeppelin-Stiftung 325 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 325 Unlock Company Profile
General Electric 130 Unlock Company Profile
Miba 87 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 70 Unlock Company Profile
Vestas Wind Systems 57 Unlock Company Profile
Five Seasons XVI 36 Unlock Company Profile
Hexagon 31 Unlock Company Profile
Schaeffler 30 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 28 Unlock Company Profile
Gamesa Innovation & Technology 26 Unlock Company Profile
ORBITAL2 25 Unlock Company Profile
AutoInvent Transip 16 Unlock Company Profile
AB SKF 16 Unlock Company Profile
The Timken 16 Unlock Company Profile
Sumitomo Heavy Industries 11 Unlock Company Profile
Nordex 10 Unlock Company Profile
Driven Brands 9 Unlock Company Profile
Takkion 9 Unlock Company Profile
Nabtesco 9 Unlock Company Profile
Moventas Gears UK 8 Unlock Company Profile
Aerodyn Engineering 8 Unlock Company Profile
Safran 7 Unlock Company Profile
Traton 7 Unlock Company Profile
Bonfiglioli Riduttori 7 Unlock Company Profile
Daido Metal 6 Unlock Company Profile
Senvion 6 Unlock Company Profile
Shanghai Electric Group 6 Unlock Company Profile
Wobben Properties 5 Unlock Company Profile
CRRC Group 5 Unlock Company Profile
Comer Industries 5 Unlock Company Profile
Dongfang Electric 3 Unlock Company Profile
Chongqing Wangjiang Industrial 3 Unlock Company Profile
David Brown Gear Systems 2 Unlock Company Profile
K. L. Kaschier- und Laminier 2 Unlock Company Profile
Ishibashi Manufacturing 2 Unlock Company Profile
China Shipbuilding Industry 2 Unlock Company Profile
Broadwind Energy 2 Unlock Company Profile
Multigear 1 Unlock Company Profile
DOOSAN MOTTROL 1 Unlock Company Profile
HD Hyundai 1 Unlock Company Profile
Ming Yang Smart Energy Group 1 Unlock Company Profile
Doosan 1 Unlock Company Profile
R Energy Electric Tianjin 1 Unlock Company Profile
Eickhoff Maschinenfabrik 1 Unlock Company Profile
Fm Energie 1 Unlock Company Profile
SEISA Gear 1 Unlock Company Profile
Cascade Drives 1 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Siemens is the leading patent filer in wind turbine gearboxes, followed by Zeppelin-Stiftung and General Electric. Other key filers include Miba, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Vestas Wind Systems.

ZF Friedrichshafen, a subsidiary of Zeppelin-Stiftung, is a technology provider offering a wide range of both automotive and non-automotive products. Through ZF Wind Power, it has developed a new kind of modular gearbox platform, which can maximize energy production at every site and provides cost-effective turbine designs for all markets. Recently, ZF Wind Power invested in a Test & Prototype Center to empower a sustainable future.

Finnish wind turbine gearbox manufacturer Moventas is another leading patent filer in the space. Exceed Gearbox Series is its most innovative product platform. In April 2022, Flender, a global drivetrain specialist, acquired Moventas.

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.