Utility grade wind turbines have become so technologically advanced that they have improved the cost of energy of wind enough to become more mainstream than ever before and compete with todays conventional energy sources. We have decided to conduct an investigation of the patent landscape to see what technological trends have emerged thus far and what we might be able to infer for the future direction of wind turbine technology. At this time, the assessment was limited to the most prevalent sector of wind turbine technology utility grade, horizontal axis wind turbines.
The search was conducted utilizing a comprehensive approach, as well as thorough reading and examination of results. A patent database and search portal was used which covers 90 different patent authorities worldwide, including 20 countries which provide full-text file search as well as legal status information. We first identified a set of keywords which would provide an all-inclusive set of search results. We also identified patent classes to search in order to ensure that relevant results would not be omitted. Lastly, a set of assignees of over 100+ companies who have currently or previously produced wind turbine technology / components was searched.
Aggregation of these results and elimination of duplicates as well as false positive results has led to a total set of 1461 US patents dealing with utility grade, horizontal axis wind turbines. While the scope of these search results was limited to US issued patents, most of these have equivalent foreign filings.
The results have been grouped by Assignee, and it should come as no shock to industry watchers who the top 3 assignees are for utility grade, horizontal axis wind turbine patents. For the sake of compactness, only those with 4 or more patents were included in the chart.
The search results were read and analyzed to determine a keyword classificatio