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Posts Tagged: "solar energy"

Patent Trends Study Part Eleven: Cleantech Industry

Yesterday, we discussed patenting trends in artificial intelligence (AI). Today, we turn to the cleantech and green tech industries, which are changing many established industries in different sectors of the economy, as well as providing entirely new areas to innovate. Cleantech innovation is relatively steady in recent years after a growth spurt that started nearly a decade ago. Those early growth trends were likely driven by government stimulus funds that have disappeared along with the growing innovation trend.  The promise of a green revolution powered by cleantech may still be happening, but it simply is not a patent growth area in general except for a few areas explored below. Developing new products in this space takes years and there are many factors that interrupt this cycle to make product introduction difficult.

NASA Launches Parker Solar Probe to Study Formation of Solar Winds and Near-Sun Environment

In the early morning hours of Saturday, August 11th, NASA plans to launch the Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft that is outfitted with various scientific instruments meant to study the near-Sun environment. At its closest, the Parker probe will collect data at 3.8 million miles from the Sun where it will experience temperatures reaching 2,500°F.

Chinese solar farms make country a global leader in renewables despite world’s deadliest air quality

The Anhui solar farm is the world’s largest floating farm but its 40 MW capacity is much lower than other large photovoltaic power stations across the world. However, news reports have focused on the fact that the Anhui farm is the latest in a string of renewable energy plant construction projects, which have been ramping up in China. In recent years, that country’s central government has made steps towards building massive solar farms on land, including a 2,550-hectare plant in the Gobi Desert.

The Future of CleanTech Patents

The number of U.S. patents granted for clean energy technology has recently dropped following a near 10-year period of growth. In fact, according to the Brookings Institute, the number of CleanTech patents granted in the country fell by a whopping nine percent between 2014 and 2016. When the economy picks up and things shift again, energy patents should be able to move forward, but for now, the uncertainty with the current Trump administration has brought things to a complete standstill.

The new Elon Musk master plan for Tesla reeks of overconfidence

Elon Musk’s updated master plan reeks of overconfidence. He envisions entire fleets of autonomous Tesla vehicles while missing recent sales targets by thousands of units. He wants to pump massive amounts of money into R&D for autonomous technologies and new types of vehicles, but the company is having trouble with bleeding warranty costs which are double the amount seen at Ford or GM. The lack of timeline details in the master plan was not well received by financial analysts and Tesla stock was down by 3 percent in the days after the announcement.

Signs of turbulence in Musk’s business holdings grow as SolarCity reduces jobs commitment at Buffalo, NY plant

SolarCity was a little more muted on the topic of how many jobs it would create in Buffalo, and yet those promises are still being broken. News reports from the area pinned a definitive number on exactly how many jobs the Buffalo plant will create: 1,460. This included, according to news reports, at least 1,000 production jobs to create shifts of 300 to 400 workers which could operate the plant around the clock. A reported 400 jobs would be for engineers and require at least a bachelor’s degree. Residents of the city (including this writer) can tell you that, although the city has shown signs of pulling itself out of a decades-long depression, many hopes involving Buffalo’s immediate economic futures have been pinned on SolarCity, and the state has backed that hope up to the tune of $750 million. This represents most of the cash set aside for Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative which is currently under heavy investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara based on a series of subpoenas issued by federal prosecutors over the past year.

America’s aging electrical grid could benefit from smart grid tech

With an average price of 12 cents per kilowatt hour (Kwh) as of January 2016, the American electrical grid system still does a good job of getting electrical energy to consumers in a cost-effective fashion. However, the electrical grid is an aging infrastructure in desperate need of modernization. A 2013 report card issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers issued a D+ grade to the country’s electricity infrastructure despite increased investment since 2005. A report card synopsis cites the age of distribution systems, some of which were in use during the 1880s, as well as weather events and limited maintenance as serious issues. As more electrical grid resources become connected to the Internet in the race to develop smarter grids, cyber attacks will become an area of growing concern, which utility providers will have to stay ahead of.

Clean energy patent market may offer significant financial gains

With an increase in the number of patents being issued for clean energy technologies, it’s not surprising to see predictions of increased patent litigation in the sector. Patent infringement cases in the clean energy sector have already involved many of the industry’s top companies, including Westinghouse Solar, Zep Solar, DuPont (NYSE:DD) and SunEdison. Although patent issuances have exploded in that field, the market isn’t nearly as crowded as smartphones and other industries where a much higher number of patents have issued, making those sectors more visible to NPEs. With the renewed calls for both private and public investment into clean energy R&D in the wake of the Paris climate change conference, it’s clear to see that intellectual property owners who can successfully navigate the patent market could make significant financial gains.

In midst of stiff corporate headwinds, Toshiba maintains spot as leading innovator

Toshiba exists among the giants of the U.S. patent landscape, placing sixth among all companies in terms of patents received from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2015; it took home 2,627 U.S. patents in 2015. This sixth-place showing sees Toshiba improving upon its 2014 rankings, where it took in the seventh-most U.S. patents. In terms of total U.S. patents, however, Toshiba actually earned less than it did in 2014, when it brought in 2,850 patents. In the three months leading up to this writing, Toshiba earned 677 U.S. patents, according to Innography’s patent portfolio analysis tools. The text cluster indicates that there remains a great deal of focus on developing semiconductor layer and memory technologies at Toshiba, although activities in control units, image processing and image data are also prominent.

The Top 10 Patent Applications of 2015

Innovation in the automotive sector was a huge story, both for the types of technologies being developed and the companies pursuing the R&D in that field. Drones and robotics also played a role in other top patent applications which we’re profiling today. Rounding out our list of top 2015 innovations includes an emotion analysis system for financial security, wireless charging schemes, low-power communications for wearable devices and a greenhouse window that can generate electricity while improving crop yield.

The Top 10 Patents Issued in 2015

2015 was a truly remarkable year for innovation and we saw major trends in self-driving cars, wearable technologies, digital wallets and much more. I hope you will enjoy this top 10 listing, which includes innovations for providing water in arid regions, wireless charging systems for electronic devices and even the collection and retransmission of sunlight. Of course, as with all of these types of lists, the criteria used for inclusion on this list is subjective, based on my own personal preferences. Please feel free to let us know if you saw something particularly noteworthy in 2015.

Elon Musk patent hypocrisy on display in growing SolarCity patent portfolio

Elon Musk also has a bizarro acquaintance with the truth, at least when it comes to patents. In his All Our Patent Are Belong To You [sic] blog post, which has served as the seminal moment for the current open-source trend in the auto industry, Musk stated that since his departure from Zip2, a previous business venture, in 1999, that he has “avoided [patents] whenever possible.” That anti-patent sentiment has raised Musk to rockstar status in the eyes of some, but even a cursory review of the facts suggests that Musk does not practice what he preaches. The fact that we can do a profile of patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to SolarCity in this year alone proves that, at least where it comes to patents, Elon Musk’s message is at best a “do as I say not as I do” approach to business. At worst, Musk is not true to his word.

Samsung pulls ahead in wearables, sets sights on medical innovation

In 2014, Samsung Electronics was second overall among companies receiving U.S. patents with approximately 13.5 patents every day over the course of a year. While much of Samsung’s recently acquired portfolio relates to semiconductor and memory devices, they are also a big player in wearable technologies. In fact, Samsung is the top filer of patent applications related to wearable technologies, accounting for about four percent of the 41,301 patents making up the wearables field according to a study by Lux Research of Boston, MA.

Samsung innovates in gene therapies and 3D content display

There have been signs that Samsung is trying to wind down its operations in its medical device businesses, but we found plenty of patent applications filed with the USPTO indicating that healthcare innovation is still very important to this corporation. A technique for the genetic analysis of human subjects to test for diagnosing certain leukemias is featured by U.S. Patent Application No. 20150038360, titled Method for Multiplex-Detecting Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Gene Using Cleavable Probe. The kit for detecting an e19a2 breakpoint of a BCR-ABL fusion gene claimed here contains five primer sets, each having a primer comprised of a specific nucleic acid. This kit provides for the early detection of chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML, including rarer varieties of the disease.

A Bright Future: The Current State of Solar Technology Development

Recently, a team of scientists working at Ohio State University created the world’s solar battery, which includes a solar cell and a battery within a singly hybrid device. These batteries, which could achieve a length of charge comparable to other rechargeable batteries, achieves a cost reduction in utilizing solar energy of about 25 percent. It also reduces the need for any process of transmitting electricity from a solar cell to a battery, in which up to 20 percent of electrons are successfully transmitted to the battery.