The CEPGI monitors important technological breakthroughs in the Clean Energy sector and tracks the granting of patents in the field.
Victor Cardona, Co-chair of the firm’s Cleantech Group stated, “We have drilled down into our solar patent data and have found some interesting results. Solar photovoltaic patents lead those of solar thermal by a wide margin. Within solar thermal, indirect technologies, such as those directed to generating electricity, are the leaders with Boeing having the most patents in this sector. Solar PV is dominated by first generation PV technologies and led by Canon.”
The Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) provides an indication of the trend of innovative activity in the Clean Energy sector since 2002 in the U.S., along with leading patent owners and leading country and state information. As depicted below, solar technology patents have trended upwardly for the last four quarters and are beginning to regain ground lost since 2002, when tracking of the CEPGI began.
As depicted in the figure, on an annual basis, granted patents in photovoltaic technology dropped sharply from 2002-2005 before flattening out and rising slightly, and jumping significantly in the most recent four quarters. The number of granted U.S. patents on the thermal technology side of solar energy increased slightly from 2002 to 2005 before slowly declining.
The top patent owners in the solar thermal area since 2002 are dominated by Boeing (14), which has patents directed to indirect solar thermal technologies including aspects of generating electricity via the heating of fluids and solar molten salt technologies. Canon is far and away the leader in Solar PV patents with over 2.5 times Sharp, its closest competitor. Canon has patents in almost all PV categories led by enabling (60), second generation (19), and first generation (9) technology patents. Sharp spreads its patents out among various subcategories including enabling (15), first (4), second (8), third (5) and enhancement (5).
Of the top fifteen (15) PV patent holders, seven (7) are based in Japan while the rest are based in the United States. However, Japanese patent holders dominate the top fifteen (15) in absolute numbers of patents. In fact, the top three patent holders, all from Japan, hold over 17% of all PV patents.