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Clean Energy Patents Show Yearly Rise, Quarterly Fall

A record number of first quarter clean energy patents were granted in 2011 in the U.S. according to Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti’s Clean Energy Patent Growth Index.

According to the index, which tracks the granting of patents in the clean energy sector, there were 540 granted U.S. patents in the first quarter 2011, up 161 from the same quarter in 2010.

This is the second highest quarterly total recorded since the index began. The highest recoded quarterly total was 575, logged in the final quarter of 2010.

Wind and solar patents rose from the final quarter of 2010 to the first in 2011. Wind patents rose by two to 86 and solar by six to 138.  Both also greatly exceeded the results of the first quarter of 2010, with wind topping the previous year by 51 and solar almost doubling, up 71.

But the number of granted fuel cell patents dropped from the final quarter of 2010 to the first quarter of 2011. Fuel cells are down 37 patents relative to the fourth quarter of last year at 250 while being up 42 year-on-year.

Fuel cell patents were the driving force behind General Motors winning more clean energy patents in the quarter than any other company. The automaker was granted 42 clean energy patents, 34 of those were related to fuel cell technology, six were in hybrid/electric vehicle technology and two in solar.

Samsung was the company with the second most clean energy patents. The electronics firm had 26 fuel cell patents and three solar patents.  Honda was in third place with 25 fuel cell and two solar patents.

GE’s wind dominance continued with 21 wind patents to go along with two fuel cell and one solar patent.  Toyota was in fifth place with 16 fuel cell and seven hybrid/electric vehicle patents. Vestas had 15 patents all in wind energy.  Nissan had 10 patents with six in fuel cells and four hybrid/electric vehicle patents.  Mitsubishi had seven clean energy patents (three solar, four wind) leading Canon and Hyundai by one patent.  Canon’s patents were exclusively fuel cells while Hyundai had four fuel cell and two hybrid/electric vehicle patents.


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