We are familiar with the importance of intellectual property. It is an essential indicator of the economic growth. Number of patents issued in any country in a year indicates the growth of research and innovative development.
Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti’s Cleantech Group publishes a quarterly called the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index. It gives an insight into the trends appearing in the clean energy sector. They keep track of U.S. patents for solar, wind, hybrid/ electric vehicles, fuel cells, hydroelectric, tidal/ wave, geothermal, biomass/biofuel and other green unconventional sources of energy. Results of the fourth quarter of the 2008 displayed that present economic slump couldn’t dampen the spirit of entrepreneurs and researchers. 928 patents were issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. Till now fuel cells are leading the pack, the total fuel cell patents issued in 2008 (530) exceeded the 2007 number. Patents in wind, hydroelectric, tidal and geothermal also were surging ahead in significant numbers in 2008 over 2007.
Most astonishing results are exhibited by automobile companies. They comprise five of the top 10 leaders in clean energy patents, with three more in the top 25. Honda was at the top of the list in 2008 while second spot was claimed by General Motors.
The number of patents issued in the clean and green energy sector signifies that investors and entrepreneurs have faith in new and non-obvious innovations. Economy is still sound to take the impact of all these researches and developments.
Quality Vs Quantity
Ocean Tomo’s proprietary PatentRatings System keeps tab on the quality of patents. This quality index is not very encouraging. A current article appearing in Ocean Tomo, PatentRatings data tells us about the old adage, quality matters not quantity. Patents’ average quality overall has declined in the past ten years. But the hopeful factor is if we take individual data into account then the scenario is not that bleak. The data show that the number of relatively high quality patents, individually, has increased. This discord might be due to more innovations in improvements to existing technologies as compared to innovations in revolutionary technologies.
Role of Government
Government’s role in defining and encouraging a particular sector is very significant. Alternative energy sector has lots of faith in Obama administration. This government is considerate about intellectual property (IP). People are pinning lots of hope on Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This act invests significantly on the federal, state and local levels through direct spending programs, tax incentives, loan guarantee and bond programs to maintain development of unconventional energy and green energy technologies. The Act allots about $92 billion in clean technology, including $32.8 billion in clean energy, $26.86 billion in energy efficiency and $18.95 billion in green transportation. This significant federal funding creates an atmosphere of opportunity for innovators and investors to pursue projects in renewable energy and clean transportation. This step will surely lead to further growth in innovation and IP in the renewable energy sector.
Hybrid technology- $2 billion is granted for projects involving the manufacture and development of advanced battery systems and components for hybrid vehicles. $300 is allocated for hybrids vehicles, electric vehicles and commercially available plug-ins.
$4.5 billion has been assigned for energy generation, storage and delivery technology. This includes Smart Grid Investment Program to modernize the nations energy delivery.
$3.1 billion is given to the Department of Energy’s State Energy Program. They mainly concentrate on doling out grants to states for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
They have not forgotten green buildings. $4.5 billion has been set aside for Green Buildings.
Fuel cells — An investment tax credit for entities investment in renewable energy sources, including fuel cells.
$8 billion is fixed for public transportation. This includes passenger rail projects too.
$6 billionis assigned for Carbon reduction. This is a very crucial step to undo the ills of pollution. This will support commercial initiatives for lowering air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions.
Solar – they are withdrawing certain caps on tax credits and including an investment tax credit for investment in renewable energy sources, including solar.
Geothermal – They are again removing certain caps on tax credits and extending the production tax credit.
Wind – Again government is repealing certain caps on investment tax credits and extending the production tax credit for wind facilities.
In general, the mood in the renewable energy sector is upbeat in light of the new incentives from the administration. Many think it will lead us to a step towards a more comprehensive renewable energy policy. Looking at the substantial inflow of money into the green sector, one would expect the raw number of issued patents to increase spectacularly.