Patent review: six ways to gain an edge?

Our research identifies economic opportunities in the energy transition. To do this, we have now drawn upon 20M patents. This 14-page note illustrates the six ways that patent analysis can give decision-makers an edge. It includes detailed examples in renewables, electric vehicles, capital goods, conventional energy and hydrogen.

The objective of our research is to find economic opportunities that can drive the energy transition. This note outlines how patents feature in our research and why they matter.

What are patents? A brief history and overview of patent filings is given on pages 2-3.

Charting challenges? By definition, patents must explain the precise technical challenges that they aim to overcome. Page 4 illustrates the point, presenting our top conclusions from reviewing 100 patents into lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Gauging the pace of innovation? The average energy technology sees 600 patents filed per year and has been accelerating at a 5% CAGR. It is exciting when progress accelerates and somewhat less promising it slows. Different themes are ranked on pages 5-6.

Competitive pressure? China now files 70% of all global patents, the largest share of any country in history. Some sectors are also intensively competitive. Pages 7-8 explain how we help to flag these risks.

Finding moats? To generate superior returns, it is necessary to have superior technologies. Pages 9-10 show how patent filings correlate with ROACEs and costs. Technology leaders in the conventional energy industry are ranked on page 11.

Company snapshots? We give two examples on page 12-13, assessing how Tesla and Vestas’s technical edge stacks up against peers’.

Avoid bubbles? Sometimes the emperor has no clothes, and companies’ promises are unrealistic. It shows up in their lack of IP. For example, earlier this year, we questioned Nikola’s hydrogen truck patents, as is recapitulated on page 14.

We aim to help our clients avoid the bubbles and find non-obvious opportunities that can earn returns and drive the transition forwards. Please let us know if we can help you.