Tapping the Winds of Change: Wind Energy Patents Prospects in India

Tapping the Winds of Change: Wind Energy Patents Prospects in IndiaTapping offshore wind energy to generate electricity is emerging as a clean and renewable source of affordable and reliable electricity. It has been on the top agenda of all wind energy producers and distributors worldwide since 2006. The filling of patent applications in the offshore wind energy field surged between 2006 and 2022. The patenting activity in offshore wind energy remained dominant in the field of floating foundations, erection of turbines, transportation equipment and mechanical transmission. Inventors have also shown interest in scaling up the combining offshore and electrolysis, thus opening doors for the production of green hydrogen.

Shifting trends from onshore wind energy to offshore activity are visible from the number of patents filed by industry players in this innovative area. Some players are actively innovating alternative designs for towers, like concrete and lattice structures, to reduce the demand for steel. They are also exploring the innovation of modular blade assembly options and sustainable and recyclable blades to address the manufacturing and transportation challenges. Those who are looking for the production of green hydrogen are also innovating in improved hydrogen storage systems. Many innovators are active in developing better submarine cables and cable-laying systems.

Combining offshore wind turbines and electrolysers is an emerging trend in patent activity between 2020-21. According to the EPO report, from 2002 to 2022, about 17000 patent families related to offshore wind energy were published. Applicants from China top the list with 52% of the total families, followed by the Republic of Korea at 6%, Germany and Japan at 5% and the USA and Denmark at 4%.

‘Nobel Engineering Award’ to Offshore Wind Energy Generation

The importance of wind energy innovations has now been duly recognised by the Nobel Engineering Award Committee of the prestigious European Queen Elizabeth as the 2224 Award for Engineering is given to Danish Henrik Stiesdal and British Andrew Garrad (GodFathers of offshore wind energy generation). Stiesdal has made more than 175 inventions and has received more than 650 patents related to wind power technology. Stiesdal is involved in around 175 inventions, including thermal storage, pyrolysis and other technologies, with an emphasis on simplicity and economy rather than advanced technology. He holds more than 94 patents for concepts in wind turbine and battery design. Henrik Stiesdal was responsible for the turbine design for the world’s first offshore wind farm in 1991. In 2019, the trade magazine Recharge gave its “Floating Wind Power Player of the Year” award to Stiesdal for his TetraSpar floating platform design for offshore wind turbines. His specific innovations include wind turbine blades cast in one piece and direct-drive generators for offshore wind turbines, eliminating the need for gearboxes.

Patenting Activity on Offshore Wind Energy Inventions

According to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (2021), the ten countries with the largest accumulated capacity of wind energy are China, the USA, Germany, India, Spain, the UK, France, Brazil, Canada, and Italy. According to this report, China, the USA, and Germany are responsible for 56% of the patents deposited, considering the priority number and 63% of wind power installed capacity worldwide. Turning to the offshore wind technology patent, If we see the filing trends under PCT, we will find there is a 120% increase in global patent applications for green energy and energy-efficient technologies under the International Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) between 2006 and 2020. According to the Offshore Wind Energy Patent Insights Report, patent applications for offshore wind energy technology have increased by an average of 18% between 2002 and 2022.

Tapping the Winds of Change

With the Government of India supporting the setting up of green energy generation industries, the race for patenting wind energy technologies is heating up. Thanks to the falling cost of the wind farm project offshore, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has set an offshore wind power development goal of installing 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. The race is on to consolidate patent positions in the growing wind-power marketplace in India. India’s dormant offshore wind power sector in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat may soon become a hotbed of action. Old wind power companies are diligent in protecting their innovations and enforcing their patents in India as well. New players in this field are ready to launch new products and services.

The characteristics and dynamics of wind energy technology nudge inventors to seek protection for these high-value patents in multiple countries, including India. India, one of the countries with the largest accumulated wind energy capacity, is now emerging as an obvious target for patent filing through the PCT route. Notably, the grant percentage of high-value wind energy patents in India is very impressive, with almost negligible refusals so far. The Indian Government introduced the ‘National Offshore Wind Energy Policy’ in 2015, providing the basic framework for developing the offshore wind sector. The National Institute of Wind Energy conducted assessment studies to validate the offshore wind resource potential in identified locations off the coast of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu coastline.

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has revived its offshore wind power development goals and set a target for installing 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. It is the right time to patent high-value inventions in this field in India and take the first mover advantage. Since this field holds high-value patents, the companies must be extra careful to evaluate the Indian patent landscape as well to minimise the risks of having to defend against a costly infringement suit or risk of revocation. Expert advice can be helpful in understanding the patent landscape in India.


Author: DPS Parmar

First Published By: Lexology Here