Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




ENERGY TECH
Innovation in renewable-energy technologies is booming
by David Chandler for MIT News
Boston MA (SPX) Oct 16, 2013


New study shows that from 1970 to 2009, Japan led the world in the number of patents related to photovoltaics (solar cells). Over the last five years of that period, the number of solar patents worldwide increased by 13 percent per year. Graphic courtesy of the researchers.

The number of patents issued for renewable-energy technologies has risen sharply over the last decade, according to new research from MIT and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI). The study shows that investments in research and development, as well as in the growth of markets for these products, have helped to spur this dramatic growth in innovation.

"We were quite surprised," says Jessika Trancik, an assistant professor of engineering systems at MIT and a co-author of the new report, published in the journal PLoS ONE. Trancik -- working with Luis Bettencourt of SFI and graduate student Jasleen Kaur from Indiana University -- created a database of energy-related patents issued in more than 100 countries between 1970 and 2009, using keyword searches of the patents themselves, rather than the classifications assigned by patent offices. In all, the team examined more than 73,000 patents issued for energy-related technologies.

This database "gives you a view into innovation activity -- who's doing it, and where," Trancik says. Further statistical analysis, she says, showed a clear correlation between this rise in patents and prior investments in R and D, along with growth in the markets for such renewable technologies.

The increase was most dramatic in patents related to renewable energy, chiefly solar energy and wind. Patents in fossil-fuel technologies showed a more modest increase, while those in nuclear technology were flat.

For example, between 2004 and 2009, the number of patents issued annually for solar energy increased by 13 percent per year, while those for wind energy increased 19 percent per year, on average; these growth rates approach or exceed the rates for technologies such as semiconductors and digital communications.

Overall, renewable-energy patents in the United States increased from fewer than 200 per year in the period from 1975 to 2000 to more than 1,000 annually by 2009. By comparison, there were about 300 fossil-fuel-related patents in 2009, up from about 100 a year in earlier decades. The fraction of all patents accounted for by energy is also increasing.

While there was a large increase in research funding in these fields following the oil shocks of the 1970s and 1980s, that was followed by a steep dropoff. But the effect of those investments is visible in the current patent boom, Trancik says. "Knowledge persists," she says. "A lot of work was done in the '70s and '80s, a lot of effort was put in, and we're still benefitting from that."

Trancik says the team saw the cumulative effect of investment in research, by both governments and industry, and the effect of growth in the market for renewable-energy systems -- which also benefitted from government subsidies, incentives and tax breaks.

The trends were similar in the United States and elsewhere, although there were regional differences, Trancik says. While China has sometimes been accused of taking advantage of technologies invented elsewhere, and innovating mainly in production processes, the new data paint a different picture: Patents filed in China for renewable-energy technology (which includes patents filed by foreign inventors or companies) have shown dramatic growth over the last few years.

"China's really taking off," Trancik says, adding that "understanding the nature of the technological development represented requires a close look at patent content."

The cumulative, long-term effect of research investment is another significant finding from this study, she says. Investments tend to come in cycles, she says, "so this persistence of knowledge is significant -- and comforting, in a way."

Both investment in basic research and investment in implementation of technologies play an important role, Trancik says. "The data really show the importance of this, of the two forms of investment working together," she says.

For example, in the case of well-established consumer technologies, such as computers, the transition to implementation by industry can be swift. But for other less-established or less-visible technologies, this process can take longer.

"Improving something that's not valued in the market ... requires more investment," Trancik says. A lighter laptop, or one with a longer battery life, provides an obvious benefit to the consumer, "whereas a consumer wouldn't notice when turning on the lights whether there's more or less carbon emissions." That's where government regulations and investments can help jump-start new technology, she says.

Bettencourt adds that new technologies often require a long time to develop, and public investment is crucial at that early stage, allowing the technology to take off as markets kick in. "This has happened with many familiar technologies, such as cell phones, so we wanted to better understand if it may be about to happen to new energy technologies," he says.

.


Related Links
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





ENERGY TECH
Patents for renewable energy on the rise
Cambridge, Mass. (UPI) Oct 11, 2013
New patents related to renewable energy technologies are on the rise, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study shows. The MIT study, in conjunction with the Santa Fe Institute, found that from 1970 to 2009, Japan led the world in the number of patents related to photovoltaics, or solar cells, with the United States second and China third. The number of solar patents worldwid ... read more


ENERGY TECH
NASA's moon landing remembered as a promise of a 'future which never happened'

Russia could build manned lunar base

China unveils its first and unnamed moon rover

Mission to moon will boost research and awareness

ENERGY TECH
Russia to make another attempt to bring back Mars moon material

Curiosity rover finds proof of Mars origin of meteorites

Martian scars Run Deep

US shutdown not to hit Indian Mars mission

ENERGY TECH
Iran plans new monkey space launch

Scott Carpenter, second American in orbit, dies at 88

NASA ban on Chinese scientists 'inaccurate': lawmaker

Naval Institute History Conference: From Mercury to the Shuttle

ENERGY TECH
Ten Years of Chinese Astronauts

NASA vows to review ban on Chinese astronomers

China criticises US space agency over 'discrimination'

NASA ban on Chinese scientists 'inaccurate': lawmaker

ENERGY TECH
Aerojet Rocketdyne Thrusters Help Cygnus Spacecraft Berth at the International Space Station

First CASIS Funded Payloads Berthed to the ISS

Unmanned cargo ship docks with orbiting Space Station

New space crew joins ISS on Olympic torch mission

ENERGY TECH
Sunshield preparations bring Gaia closer to deep-space Soyuz launch

SES-8 Arrives At Cape Canaveral For SpaceX Falcon 9 Launch

Spaceport Colorado and S3 Sign Memorandum of Understanding

Milky Way-mapping Gaia receives its sunshield

ENERGY TECH
Water discovered in remnants of extrasolar rocky world orbiting white dwarf

Space 'graveyard' reveals bits of an Earth-like planet

Scientists generate first map of clouds on an exoplanet

Diamond 'super-earth' may not be quite as precious

ENERGY TECH
British engineers hope to reboot 50-year-old computer

Circadian rhythms in skin stem cells protect us against UV rays

Northwestern Researchers Develop Compact, High-Power Terahertz Source at Room Temperature

Thousands march in Romania against Canadian mine plan




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement