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BATTERY TECHNOLOGY Top 25 applicants in battery technology, 2000-2018

Author / Editor: Luke James / Johanna Erbacher

According to a joint study by the European Patent Office and the International Energy Agency, patents for batteries and other electricity storage technologies are growing worldwide at an average annual rate of 14%, four times faster than the average for all other technology areas.

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Improving the capacity of electricity storage is playing a major role in the transition to clean energy technologies. This has been reflected by patenting activity during 2000 to 2018 (2005 to 2018 especially).
Improving the capacity of electricity storage is playing a major role in the transition to clean energy technologies. This has been reflected by patenting activity during 2000 to 2018 (2005 to 2018 especially).
(Source: gemeinfrei / Pexels )

The report, which is a global analysis based on patent data, shows that batteries have accounted for almost 90 percent of all patents90 percent of all patents in the area of electricity storage, and that the rise in innovation is driven almost entirely by advances in rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries used in consumer devices and Electric Vehicles (EVs).

Who’s applying for the most patents?

The report shows that it’s firms in Asia that are applying for the most patents, with companies in Japan and South Korea holding a clear lead in the global race for battery technology. Out of the top 10 global applicants for battery-related patents, nine are from Asian countries. Asian companies also account for two-thirds of the top 25 applicants, which also includes six European firms and two from the United States.

The top five applicants - Samsung, Panasonic, LG Electronics, Toyota, and Bosch - together accounted for over a quarter of all International Patent Families (IPFs) between 2000 and 2018.

Despite trailing behind initially, however, European firms have also contributed significantly to the global rise in battery innovation observed in this time, albeit much later on than their Asian counterparts. In Europe, perhaps unsurprisingly, Germany dominates, with German firms responsible for 5,080 IPFs, more than half of all IPFs originating from Europe. Coming second to Germany was France with 1,354 IPFs, and in third place the UK with only 652 IPFs.

A challenge for the future

Developing better, cheaper, safer, and more reliable electricity storage is a huge challenge for the future.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) and its projections, the world won’t be able to meet its climate and sustainable energy goals unless close to 10,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of batteries and other forms long-term energy storage are available by 2040. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s 50 times larger than the size of the current market, and accelerated innovation will be required to achieve this growth.

A graph of the global top 25 applicants for battery-related technology patents between 2000 and 2018, showing clear dominance by Asian firms.
A graph of the global top 25 applicants for battery-related technology patents between 2000 and 2018, showing clear dominance by Asian firms.
(Source: European Patent Office.)

“The rapid and sustained rise in electricity storage innovation shows that inventors and businesses are tackling the challenge of the energy transition. The patent data reveals that while Asia has a strong lead in this strategic industry, the US and Europe can count on a rich innovation ecosystem, including a large number of SMEs and research institutions, to help them stay in the race for the next generation of batteries,” said António Campinos, President of the European Patent Office.

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