The Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI), published quarterly by the Cleantech Group at Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C. provides an indication of the trend of innovative activity in the Clean Energy sector from 2002 to the present. Results from the Q1 2012 reveal the CEPGI to have a value of 694 granted U.S. patents, the highest quarter since tracking of the CEPGI began and up 154 over the first quarter of 2011.
The granting of patents by the United States Patent and Trademark (PTO) is often cited as a measure of the inventive activity and evidence of the effectiveness of research & development investments. Patents are considered to be an indicator of this because to be awarded a patent requires not only the efforts of inventors to develop new and non-obvious innovations but also successful handling by patent counsel to shepherd a patent application through the PTO.
The components breakdown of the CEPGI shows fuel cells to be down 19 patents relative to the 4th quarter of last year at 232 and being down 18 relative to the year before. More breakdown follows:
With 188 granted solar patents, solar has once again topped the remaining components of the CEPGI, and its closest competitor, wind at 157.
Solar and wind were tied the previous quarter at 143. This quarter, wind was up by 14 (to 157) and solar up by 45. Both technologies also greatly exceeded the results of the first quarter of 2011 with wind topping the previous year by 71 and solar up 50.
Hybrid/Electric vehicle patents numbered 62, up two relative to the 4th quarter and up 24 as compared to a year prior.
There were 36 Biomass/Biofuel patents, up 2 from the 4th quarter and more than double relative to the 1st quarter of 2011.
Hydroelectric patents (5) were up four compared to the quarter of a year prior and down one as compared to the 4th quarter.
Tidal patents were up six at 22 from the 4th quarter and up 13 over the year before.
Companies Leading the Patent Filings
Toyota emerged to take the quarterly clean energy patent crown for the first time since 2009 in the first quarter of 2011 with 49 patents. Toyota’s patents were primarily in fuel cells at 35 with an assist from Hybrid/Electric Vehicle patents at 14 and a Biofuel patent.
The leader for 2011, GE, followed with 33 patents (30 in wind, 2 solar, and 1 each in hybrid/electric vehicles and hydroelectric. Vestas Wind Systems moved into third with 30 patents – all in wind. General Motors slipped to fourth with 28 patents – all in fuel cells except four hybrid/electric vehicle and one solar patent.