GE led companies securing U.S. patents for clean energy technologies in 2011, with 184, pushing last year’s top company GM down to second place with 127, according to a report from the cleantech group of Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C.
Clean tech patents reached an all-time high of 2,331 in 2011, rising by 450 patents, or 24 percent, over 2010, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.
Overall, Honda continues to maintain the top position in clean energy patents granted since 2002, despite dropping to fifth place for 2011. Last year, GM took the leadership position from Honda.
This year five of the top ten overall clean energy patent holders are auto manufacturers with the other five including an assortment of wind, solar and fuel cell makers, the report said.
After Honda, GM and GE, the remaining top ten companies for the period 2002-2011 were Toyota, Samsung, Nissan, UTC Power, Ford, Ballard Power Systems and Canon.
The fuel cell sector was again the big leader on the index, although at a smaller margin this year, with its 952 patents – well ahead of solar patents for the year, at 541. Solar again topped wind in 2011, by 86 patents, the report said.
Samsung earned 115 fuel cell patents, ahead of GM’s 104 fuel cell patents, and Toyota ranked third with 78 patents for the year.
GE’s patents were primarily in wind with contributions from solar and hybrid/electric vehicles. In the wind sector, GE’s 152 total patents was more than two-and-a-half times higher than Vestas’ 59 patents. Siemens moved to third place in 2011 rankings, with 20 wind patents, just ahead of Mitsubishi’s 19.
In hybrid/EV patents, Toyota gained 36 patents, GM had 21 and Ford had 16 patents. Nissan again placed fourth in 2011 with 13 patents, while Hyundai moved up to fifth in the ranking with 11 patents, followed by Honda, Tesla, GE, Asin, Denso, Kia and Coulomb.