Alana M. Fuierer
Dolan Media Newswires
Rochester, N.Y. — A review of recent trends in clean technology patents reveals clean energy innovation has reached an all-time high.
Headlines lately seem to be filled with news on wind energy. A great deal of news coverage was generated by the federal government’s implementation of a long-term, uncapped 30 percent tax credit for residential and commercial wind turbines.
The abundance of news related to wind energy is not surprising based on a recent the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Wind Technologies Market Report,” which states U.S. wind power capacity increased by 60 percent in 2008 — representing the fastest growing wind power market in the world.
Although wind generates only 2 percent of the nation’s electricity supply, wind projects accounted for 42 percent of the new electric generating capacity in 2008. The report also concludes the U.S. leads the world in new wind capacity, capturing about 30 percent of the global market and taking the lead over Germany in cumulative wind capacity.
These market trends in wind energy are mirrored by trends in innovation: In the past seven years, issued wind patents increased dramatically from a low of 42 to a high in 2008 of 155. Despite the economic downturn in 2008, the total number of wind patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office increased in 2008 over 2007. Although wind patents fell in the first quarter of 2009 compared to fourth quarter of 2008, wind energy patents were on the rise again in the second quarter of 2009, and innovations in wind energy have outpaced solar energy.
Issued patents often are cited as an indicator of innovation, but there is an inherent lag caused by the time it takes for a patent application to be reviewed and granted — in some cases, three to five years. A review of published patent applications related to wind energy, therefore, can provide greater insight into what lies ahead. The number of patent applications filed and published since 2007 shows a very steep incline as compared to previous years. Of the total patent applications filed since 2002, almost half have yet to be granted. Although some of the pending applications never will be granted, based on the data one would expect the upward trend in wind-related patents to continue, and become even steeper.
Alana M. Fuierer is an associate with the law firm of Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti PC, with offices in Rochester and Albany.