Current and Future Trends in Wind Turbine Technology – Results of a Patent Landscaping Exercise

Utility grade wind turbines have come to be so technologically advanced that they have got stepped forward the fee of energy of wind sufficient to become more mainstream than ever earlier than and compete with todays traditional strength sources. We have decided to conduct an research of the patent panorama to look what technological traits have emerged up to now and what we is probably in a position to infer for the future course of wind turbine generation. At this time, the assessment become limited to the maximum prevalent sector of wind turbine technology software grade, horizontal axis wind mills.

The search become carried out making use of a complete technique, as well as thorough studying and exam of consequences. A patent database and search portal was used which covers 90 distinctive patent government global, together with 20 countries which offer full-textual content file seek in addition to criminal fame records. We first identified a hard and fast of key phrases which could offer an all-inclusive set of search results. We additionally recognized patent classes to look so that you can ensure that relevant effects would not be not noted. Lastly, a fixed of assignees of over one hundred+ companies who have currently or formerly produced wind turbine technology / additives become searched.

Aggregation of these results and removal of duplicates as well as false tremendous effects has caused a total set of 1461 US patents handling utility grade, horizontal axis wind generators. While the scope of those seek effects changed into confined to US issued patents, most of those have equal overseas filings.

The effects had been grouped through Assignee, and it should come as no surprise to industry watchers who the top 3 assignees are for software grade, horizontal axis wind turbine patents. For the sake of compactness, simplest people with four or more patents were blanketed in the chart.

The search outcomes have been read and analyzed to determine a key-word category that shows the specific technology and element to which the discovery refers. The aspect actually refers back to the wind turbine issue which the invention offers with, i.E. Blade, tower, generator, gearbox, and many others. The technology refers to the nature of the development, and deals with such topics as performance improvement, reliability enhancement, production equipment or processes, protection or grid compliance. The seek effects are supplied in a format wherein every personally issued patent changed into assessed and categorized. Therefore, continuations and divisionals are included as separate line objects within the effects. The following is indicative of the keyword type method.

Additionally, an assessment of the relevance of the patent to the enterprise changed into done and effects had been classified as low, medium, medium/excessive, and excessive. Definitions of this category technique are under. The evaluation of enterprise relevance serves the cause of indicating the diploma to which the patent proprietor has or is possibly to assert their rights and are trying to find licenses or in any other case implement the patent. This need to be a demonstration of the proverbial landmines to watch out for while navigating a era and product roadmap via the landscape.

• Low – Not applicable to the currently pervasive set of technologies and merchandise inside the enterprise.

• Medium – May were applicable inside the beyond, but as generation evolves it’s far much less ordinary. These are likely to shift to low inside the future.

• Medium/High – Important objects which the enterprise desires to be cognizant of, but these can probably be prevented / mitigated. Influence of things like technology traits and grid standards will ultimately determine relevance.

• High – Critical object which has been asserted, licensed or enforced, otherwise it is tremendously in all likelihood to be within the future.

While it become not blanketed inside the set of consequences supplied herein, two additional evaluation gear can be applied on the seek effects. The first is a short synopsis of the invention that the patent is claiming, that is based totally on a analyzing of the patent and need to consequently be more descriptive of the real era and reason of the inventor than the patent abstract. Secondly, a risk evaluation may be finished in keeping with the equal methodology because the evaluation of industry relevance. This will help decide the diploma to which there may be specific hazard of ability infringement based totally on era structure and different elements, and finally whether or now not risk mitigation sports have to be pursued.

In acknowledging that the software of these key phrases, the hazard assessment as well as the synopsis of the invention are all subjective, it must therefore be clean that this interest requires a positive stage of technological and enterprise knowledge.

The industry relevancy results indicate that simplest 2% of issued patents are a excessive effect at the complete industry as an entire, with every other 6% which may emerge as relevant within the future. The majority of the outcomes, the final 92%, are consequently presenting corporations with simply protective protection. Tangible value predominately exists on the Low and Medium impact patents if the ones groups are in search of equity funding or sale / divestment and their patent portfolio would require valuation, or as an alternative they may be licensing their portfolio to a accomplice or 0.33 birthday party.

The keyword classification suggests interesting, albeit apparent traits to industry watchers, but it also shows certain areas which may also present whitespace for patent protection. Obviously the blades, generators, and electrical structures of the wind generators are the largest regions of consciousness traditionally because in the end the efficient conversion of mechanical electricity into electrical is the motive. Beyond that, it’ll be seen from the technology key-word classification that those 3 areas had been most complicated for manufacturers with regards to issue reliability, so they have garnered a excellent deal of attention and innovation to improve best and performance. The emergence of controls to the top of the list is a extra latest industry trend in which turbine OEMs enterprise to optimize turbine overall performance at the same time as running within the layout envelope.

As previously stated, the trend of attempting to enhance reliability and efficiency of wind power conversion has been the most important cognizance of the industry over the last 2 a long time. It has been this recognition which has resulted inside the fee or electricity discount in addition to the reliability enhancement visible in that time body. Fleet-extensive availability of wind mills has been dramatically advanced, with maximum OEMs now quoting a 97% availability assure in their turbine supply agreements.

Now with generators getting larger in bodily length in addition to nameplate score, we are able to see that load mitigation and construction are emerging thrusts. Shipping turbines in modular sections and assembling on-site at a wind farm might be an crucial location of research for land primarily based turbine manufacturers. Component size has increased to such an volume that transportation of entire blades, towers, and nacelles below bridges and through tunnels is achieving its limits. Additionally, with commodity fees fluctuating at some point of the modern-day financial instances we see many producers attempting to take weight / material and therefore cost out of their products.

This evaluation, as well as significant analysis of ahead searching competitive intelligence allows shape our view of destiny technology developments for the industry. The following are what we trust to be the emerging tendencies in technology, and consequently patent protection:

• Component Weight Reduction (i.E. Mass / cost out to preserve tower head mass ratio) – transportation throughout land and sea of increasingly more heavy castings, towers, blades, and so on.

  • Advanced substances
  • Load mitigation / controls

• Turbine Reliability

  • Drivetrain architecture (fewer gearbox levels)
  • Elimination of gearbox – direct drive

• Fleet Management

  • Condition based renovation solutions (CBMS) as seen inside the Aerospace / Defense industry today

• Performance Optimization – premier power manufacturing regardless of triumphing situations

  • Max strength all the time
  • Derate / Uprate
  • Integration of turbine controls with the Condition Monitoring System (CMS)
  • Determine aspect remaining useful life and most desirable turbine running strategies
  • Blade aero / structural overall performance

• Grid Friendly – necessities as identified by way of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and different regulatory companies to ensure wind mills function much like traditional power flora nowadays, wherein output may be throttled and grid fluctuations may be absorbed, and so on.

  • Variable speed manipulate with use of synchronous generator vs. Induction
  • Low voltage trip-thru (LVRT)
  • Energy garage

• Size and Transportability

  • Sectional components
  • On-website meeting methods at the same time as preserving component excellent / integrity

Whatever the destiny might also actually hold, the promise of clean strength is here. Innovation keeps to power exchange.

By Philip Totaro, Principal, Totaro & Associates

Mr. Philip Totaro is the Principal at Totaro & Associates, a consulting firm centered on innovation method, competitive intelligence, product development and patent seek. Mr. Totaro has enjoy in strategic making plans as well as developing and protective highbrow capital. He has worked for such groups as General Electric, United Technologies Corporation and maximum these days he oversaw Intellectual Property and Competitive Assessment for Clipper Windpower. He has helped cultivate and disposition over 450 improvements, and his assessment has led to over 250 issued patents. His strategic marketplace analysis has brought about the funding justification of over $500M in R&D investment and the improvement of multi-million dollar product and service offerings. He has provided criminal and technical due-diligence for over $1B in M&A, together with the latest takeover of Clipper Windpower through United Technologies Corporation.

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