Measuring innovation in energy technologies: green patents as captured by WIPO's IPC green inventory

Economic Research Working Paper No. 44

Author(s): Kunihiko Fushimi, Kyle Bergquist, Lorena Rivera León, Ning Xu, Sacha Wunsch-Vincent | Publication year: 2018

License: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 IGO License

We analyze inventions in green energy technologies over the period 2005-2017. We use a novel dataset, making use of the IPC Green Inventory of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to analyze four broad categories of green energy technologies including alternative energy production technologies, energy conservation technologies, and green transportation. We use these data to look at how patent families and PCT international patent applications have evolved in this field in recent years. We find that energy innovation-related patenting has first expanded exponentially up until 2013, both in terms of the total number of patent families and PCT international patent applications in green energy technologies. Yet this period of accelerated growth in the number of published green energy patents has been followed by a period of deceleration—even a slow decline. Although most green energy technologies have seen a downward trend in the annual number of patents published since 2012, the decline has been most pronounced in nuclear power generation technologies and alternative energy production technologies. The latter notably include renewable energy technologies, such as solar and wind energy, and fuel cells. In contrast, patents in energy conservation technologies and green transportation technologies have continued to grow, but at a slower pace.

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