Battery Tech Patenting activity in battery tech is on the rise, says study
According to a new joint report conducted by the European Patent Office and the International Energy Agency, batteries account for almost 90% of all patents in electricity storage globally, growing at an annual average rate of 14% between 2005 and 2018.
Battery technology is a highly prominent area of research right now that is attracting significant attention from research scientists, designers, and engineers worldwide, and rightfully so. Improvements in battery technologies and the storage of energy created by renewable resources could not only dramatically change our world for the better but also create a huge number of new jobs for millions of people worldwide.
Now, a recent report published by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency (EIA) has shown that lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology has fuelled a huge amount of battery technology innovations since the mid-2000s.
The report—'Innovation in batteries and electricity storage’—also shows that these innovations have contributed to as many as 90% of electricity storage patents filed at the EPO between 2000 and 2018. The report also identifies an influx in patent-filing activity relating to the manufacture of battery cells between 2015 and 2018.
Driving the growth of Li-ion battery innovations
Perhaps unsurprisingly, electric vehicles (EVs) were identified by the report as the biggest driver for Li-ion battery-related innovations. Efficient and long-lasting storage has long since been a barrier to the adoption of EVs, but recent improvements in battery density have made them more viable and appealing to motorists, and more commercially viable too.
In 2011, EVs overtook consumer electronics like smartphones and personal computers as the biggest growth driver for these innovations, and the industry’s efforts to mass produce batteries for EVs saw patent-filing activity for EV battery-related inventions rise to over 7,000 in 2018.
In terms of where the majority of these innovations are happening, Asian companies in countries like Japan and South Korea are filing the most patents. In the report, a list of the top 25 applicants for patents in battery technologies for 2000—2018 includes only six companies in Europe and two in the United States. As for European countries, it’s Germany that is leading the way with 5,080 international patent families (IPFs) between the same years. That’s well ahead of those in other European countries like the UK (652 IPFs) and France (1,354 IPFs).
The report also touches on some technologies that are currently in development or just emerging. These primarily aim to address some of the inherent weaknesses of Li-ion tech, including supercapacitors and redox flow batteries. In these two fields, it is again largely Japan and South Korea that are dominating in terms of the number of patents.
However, Cheshire-based Acal Energy appears fourth on the list for the number of IPFs in the redox flow technology space, and innovation activity originating in the UK is the highest in Europe. With exciting developments underway such as a new £4 billion Tesla Gigafactory, the UK is likely to see more battery tech innovation taking place in the UK in future.
Overall, this report shows that the battery sector is very quickly maturing and that innovations within it have grown exponentially throughout the last two decades. Much of this growth has been driven by significant investment in EV batteries for the mass market, as well as research into efficient and long-lasting renewable energy storage solutions.