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Renewable Energy: New Study Shows Patenting Growth

June 11, 2014

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our times. Fortunately, much can be done to address this challenge through technological innovation, including renewable sources of energy which help reduce carbon emissions. Governments throughout the world have embraced these technologies as a big part of the solution to climate change, and have implemented regulatory frameworks and incentives to encourage their development and uptake.

Report presentation: Video

However, renewable energy is a fast-evolving technology area. Policy-making will only continue to be effective if decision-makers have an up to date picture of the current state of play. WIPO aims to contribute to this body of knowledge through the work of its Global Challenges Division, which this week releases a new patent landscape study PDF, Global Challenges Report, Renewable Energy Technology: Evolution and Policy Implications - Evidence from Patent Literature of four Climate Change Mitigation Technologies (CCMTs) to inform policy discussions by providing evidence of innovation trends, geography, technology ownership and other facts from the global patent literature.

Global Challenges Brief

IP trends in the renewable energy landscape


Global Challenges Report

Renewable Energy Technology


Green-tech patent surge

The top line: more patents have been filed in the last 5 years than in the previous 30 years across key CCMTs examined by the report (biofuels, solar thermal, solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind energy). While the average global rate of patent filing grew by 6 per cent between 2006 and 2011, these CCMTs have experienced a combined growth rate of 24 per cent over the same period– four times the rate of growth.

Graph, Patenting activity in green tech sectors: biofuels, solar thermal energy, solar photo-voltaic, and wind
Patenting activity is taking off in several green-tech sectors. More on patent landscape reports by WIPO.

Also notable is the shift in innovation from West to East. China and the Republic of Korea have filed the most patents in recent years across all four technology areas, while in solar PV, the top 20 technology owners are all based in Asia.

Globalization, competition

Patent concentrations have also decreased across three of the four patent landscapes (wind being the exception), reflecting greater globalization as well as higher competition between players from more countries.

WIPO is doing other important work in the battle against climate-change. Last year it launched WIPO GREEN, an interactive marketplace that promotes innovation and diffusion of green technologies by connecting technology and service providers with those seeking innovative solutions.

WIPO GREEN consists of an online database and network that brings together a wide range of players in the green technology innovation value chain, and connects owners of new technologies with individuals or companies looking to commercialize, license or otherwise access or distribute a green technology.