Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Patent trends in the renewable energy shift

© Shutterstock / buffaloboyPatent trends renewable energy
Power supply connect to electric vehicle for charge to the battery. Charging technology industry transport which are the futuristic of the Automobile. EV fuel Plug in hybrid car.; Shutterstock ID 1082414501; purchase_order: energy voice; job: energy voice - wood - jan 22; b00eced2-1436-4634-afe8-a72786e3fc7e

To avoid catastrophic climate breakdown, we must limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the time to act is “now or never” if we are to achieve this. As the biggest single contributor to global warming, the energy sector has a huge role to play, but alarm over energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to derail an already fragile energy transition. Now, more than ever, support for low carbon energy innovation is urgently needed to roll out clean energy solutions that reduce emissions along with dependence on Russian oil and gas.

The role of patents

Building a net-zero world requires innovation in energy supply technologies, including wind and solar energy. It is also dependent on developments in end-use sectors such as mobility and heating if we are to scale up the use of renewable energy to a level where it can replace oil and gas.

Businesses that can quickly innovate in these areas will be able to take advantage of enormous green growth opportunities. However, it is vital that the right commercial and legal framework is in place to reward those who contribute, whilst also ensuring that any successful developments can be made available for global use in an equitable way.

The patent system is designed to stimulate innovation. In return for filing a patent, holders can gain exclusive rights to make, sell and use the invention, or to licence these rights to others. The promise of exclusivity and financial reward pushes innovators to pursue technical innovation and encourages investment.

The patent system also provides a mechanism that allows innovators to collaborate with one another to drive forward innovation at a faster pace, while also protecting individual parties’ contributions. Working together is no longer optional – it is essential in the fight against climate change.

© Supplied by Say Comms
Georgina Ainscow

The patent landscape

Published patent applications provide a snapshot of the energy innovation landscape, which is a useful tool for investors and innovators deciding where to target their efforts.

According to a joint report by the EPO and the IEA, patent applications related to low carbon energy technologies saw three years of growth to the end of 2019, contrasted with a simultaneous decline of patenting in relation to fossil fuels.

However, the drivers behind this growth are not energy supply technologies. For example, patent filings in the wind and solar energy fields dropped in the five years to 2019 as compared to the preceding 5 years. Despite remaining significantly higher than 2000-2009 levels. It appears that these technologies have reached a stage of maturity where, while inventive activity is still rife, we cannot expect the radical step changes needed to meet climate change goals.

For this, we need to look to innovation in energy storage and grid management solutions, which integrate renewable energy sources into the energy supply more efficiently and at larger scale. We also need to look to the mobility and heating sectors where increased electrification can shift reliance away from fossil fuels.

Compared to the reduction in activity in energy supply technologies, the report shows increased inventive activity in the areas of batteries, hydrogen, fuel cells and smart grids. In terms of end-use sectors, it identifies electric vehicles as the most powerful driver of innovation in low carbon energy technologies over the past decade.

The EPO report does, however, make clear that there remains a need for more rapid innovation for the energy sector to reach net-zero emissions. Here, governments should step in to boost funding for research and development into new technologies and areas that could have the potential to outperform the current market leaders. These technologies will not attract large private investment without the initial public-sector support to get them off the ground.

Georgina Ainscow is a partner at Reddie & Grose, a firm of UK and European Patent, Trade Mark and Design attorneys

Recommended for you

More from Energy Voice

Latest Posts