Many of the technologies needed to stop climate change are still in early stages of development, a study of green tech patents has revealed. This is the conclusion of a joint report from the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The report "Patents and the energy transition: global trends in clean energy technology innovation" looks at trends in low-carbon energy innovation between 2000 and 2019 in terms of international patent families (IPFs). An IPF represents a unique, high-value invention for which a patent application was filed at two or more patent offices around the globe. Patent applications can be considered an early indicator of future technological trends as they are filed months or years before the products go to market.
The report found that the number of patents for inventions related to low-carbon energy technologies has gone up over the past two decades. 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. Between 2017 and 2019, 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. The average growth rate from 2000 to 2013, by contrast, was 12.5%.
"This report is a clear call for action to step up research and innovation into new low-carbon energy technologies and improve existing ones," said EPO President Antonio Campinos. "While it reveals some encouraging trends across countries and industry sectors, including in key cross-cutting technologies, it also highlights the need to further accelerate innovation in clean-energy technologies, some of which are still only emerging."