The present patent landscape report provides a general overview of existing solar cooling technologies and potential fields of application. For the purposes of this report, the definition of solar cooling was not limited to technologies using solar radiation for air-conditioning of buildings. Other applications, important for developing countries, such as cooling of water, refrigeration of sensitive goods, such as medicines, or desalination of seawater, were also included.
The report further tries to exemplify how specific technical subject matter can be searched in patent databases.As the subject matter for this report covers a wide range of technologies, the search for relevant patent families was based on a broad search strategy. The search was performed without any explicit restrictions to countries, regions or time.
Interesting results were found in particular with regard to the use of solar cooling technologies in developing countries. Numerous inventions in the field of solar cooling were filed for patent protection in industrialised countries only. Moreover, various patent applications for solar cooling technologies were filed more than 20 years ago. Accordingly, the underlying technical inventions may be used freely in developing countries. Various patent families were found to address applications which may be relevant to developing countries. Several hundred patent families concern the cooling of buildings and more than 30 patent families describe technologies for the cooling of sensitive goods such as food or medicines. In addition, more than 20 patent families address the desalination of seawater.
The most active countries developing and applying for patent protection of such technologies are the United States, Germany, China, Japan and France. In the United States, the most active period regarding patent applications for solar cooling technologies was in the 1970s, whereas most Chinese patent applications have been filed during the last five years. In Germany and Japan, solar cooling technologies have been steadily filed for patent protection over the last 40 years. In France, almost all patent applications were filed up to the early 1980s.
Apart from the report, a database of the search results, along with an interactive visualization tool are available.