14 January 2022

IP trends for 2022: Cleantech and renewable energy

The third article in our â€˜IP trends for 2022’ series on innovation and technology focuses on cleantech innovations ranging from electric vehicles (EVs), renewable energy to net-negative emission developments.

During the COP26 summit held in October – November 2021, hundreds of governments, cities and businesses signed a declaration to work towards making all new vehicles release zero emissions by 2040 at the latest. In 2022, we can therefore expect to see a focus on innovation in battery technology, particularly energy storage solutions and fast charging inventions, to make EVs practical and affordable for all consumers. This technological shift is illustrated by the fact that global patent filings for EVs are currently rising, while those for petrol and diesel vehicles are falling rapidly, as we recently reported.

During the climate change conference, there was also a renewed emphasis on the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. With power generation making up a significant proportion of total greenhouse gas emissions, we can expect to see further inventions and innovative developments in renewable energy technologies in 2022, particularly those that reduce the costs of renewable energy implementation to enable developing countries to phase out fossil fuels. For example, we expect to see improvements in the modularisation of onshore and offshore wind turbines, which is key to achieving cost effective wind power by simplifying servicing and upgrades, thus reducing lifecycle costs. We also expect to see developments in the manufacturing of polysilicon for solar photovoltaic cells in 2022, given that shortages of polysilicon in 2021 caused prices of new solar panels to rise for the first time in years.

As well as a spotlight on EV technologies and renewable energy developments, we also expect 2022 to bring innovations in net-negative emission technologies, such as BECCS (biomass energy with carbon capture and storage) – which involves recovering CO2 from the combustion products resulting from burning biomass – and DACCS (direct air carbon capture and storage) – which involves capturing CO2 directly from the air.