Photovoltaics and IP - The Calm Before the Storm?
Whilst conducting recent research into the photovoltaics market, ClearViewIP were somewhat surprised to find that IP has played a relatively small role in the industry’s development to date, despite the heavy reliance on technological development.
Over recent years, the solar power industry has experienced rapid growth, increasing by 70% in 2011 alone. Solar power is now the third most significant contributor to worldwide renewable energy generation (after hydro and wind power), with 69GW worth of solar panels having been installed worldwide by the end of 2011.
Recent news, however, suggests that the near future may prove slightly more difficult with industry consolidation, trade barriers and the current economic climate, all causes for concern. There is a vast amount of research being conducted into photovoltaics on an international scale, but while improvements in the combination of efficiency and cost have played a part in its recent successes, there is still plenty of opportunity for development, with a typical commercially available panel only converting a mere 15% of energy.
The investment of time in photovoltaics research is reflected by the intellectual property generated in the field. To date, over 180,000 patent applications relating to solar power have been filed worldwide; at a rate that has been rapidly increasing since the turn of the millennium. Filtering down these filings to those directly related to the design of photovoltaic (PV) cells, rather than their application, we were able to analyse a representative sample of these filings. Figure 1 shows that the patent application rate (normalised for the overall increase in patent applications) and worldwide PV capacity have followed similar trajectories since 1998.
Read the full report here (PDF): http://www.clearviewip.com/publications/photovoltaics/Photovoltaics.pdf
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