A new joint study published by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that the number of patents for inventions related to low-carbon energy technologies around the world grew by an average rate of 3.3% per year in the 2017-19 period. This contrasts with a decline in patenting in fossil fuels since 2015. However, the average annual growth rate of low-carbon energy patents in recent years is only a quarter of what it was a decade ago (+12.5% for 2000-2013). Further innovation is required to accelerate the availability and diversity of technologies, and to bring down costs.
Gathered inventions are grouped into three categories: low-carbon energy supply technologies (including renewable energies such as solar, wind, geothermal or hydroelectric); technologies that facilitate more efficient use of energy or fuel-switching (e.g. to low-carbon electricity) in end-use applications such as transport, buildings or industrial production; and “enabling” technologies that cut across supply and end-use or enhance infrastructure to accommodate higher levels of clean energy.
The low-carbon energy supply technologies account only for the 17% and they show a slowly fall since 2012. Technologies related to end-use sectors are stable in recent years and account for the majority (60%). The enabling technologies show the strongest growth since 2017 (34%).
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