The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with a growing emphasis on environmental sustainability. This is reflected in efforts to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, limit waste and pollution, conserve natural resources, foster biodiversity, and promote sustainable economic development, and growing importance of technologies such as advanced metering infrastructure, data analytics and meter data management systems, grid sensors and monitoring devices, and demand response systems. By leveraging these technologies, smart grid metering enables utilities to have real-time visibility into energy consumption, improve grid efficiency, optimise load management, integrate renewable resources, and provide consumers with more control over their energy usage. In the last three years alone, there have been over 3.6 million patents filed and granted in the technology industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Environmental Sustainability: Smart grid metering. Buy the report here.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

300+ innovations will shape the technology industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the technology industry using innovation intensity models built on over 2.5 million patents, there are 300+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, environmental sensors, smart grid monitoring system, and EV battery management systems are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Waste management systems, engine exhaust control systems, and hybrid solar are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are, energy trading platforms, EV charging metering automation and smart grid metering, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the technology industry

Smart grid metering is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Smart grid metering refers to an advanced digital system that employs cutting-edge technology to measure the electricity consumption of residential and commercial establishments. Its primary objective is to enhance the efficiency of electricity usage and distribution. As an integral component of the broader electricity grid modernisation initiative, smart grid metering enables more precise tracking, monitoring, and management of energy resources. These systems typically encompass digital meters, communication networks connecting meters and utilities, and software that empowers utilities to analyse and interpret usage data.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart grid metering.

Key players in smart grid metering – a disruptive innovation in the technology industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to smart grid metering

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
General Electric 84 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 38 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 29 Unlock Company Profile
LS Electric 26 Unlock Company Profile
Accenture 25 Unlock Company Profile
Korea Electric Power 23 Unlock Company Profile
Electro Industries/GaugeTech 20 Unlock Company Profile
Freestyle Technology 19 Unlock Company Profile
THOMSON LICENSING 18 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 17 Unlock Company Profile
Schneider Electric 15 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 15 Unlock Company Profile
Semiconductor Energy Laboratory 14 Unlock Company Profile
Electricite de France 14 Unlock Company Profile
Sense Labs 13 Unlock Company Profile
Kyocera 13 Unlock Company Profile
Aztech Associates 13 Unlock Company Profile
AMETEK 12 Unlock Company Profile
Haier Group 11 Unlock Company Profile
Elbex Video 11 Unlock Company Profile
Hubbell 10 Unlock Company Profile
ThinkEco 9 Unlock Company Profile
Hon Hai Precision Industry 9 Unlock Company Profile
Charterhouse Capital Partners 8 Unlock Company Profile
Watsco 8 Unlock Company Profile
Wattcost 8 Unlock Company Profile
Vertiv 8 Unlock Company Profile
Quadlogic Controls 8 Unlock Company Profile
Generac 8 Unlock Company Profile
PG&E 7 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 7 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi 7 Unlock Company Profile
Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais 7 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 7 Unlock Company Profile
OVH Groupe 6 Unlock Company Profile
SHYFT Power Solutions 6 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Electro-Mechanics 6 Unlock Company Profile
DataFlyte 6 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid 5 Unlock Company Profile
Copper Labs 5 Unlock Company Profile
ABB 5 Unlock Company Profile
Secure Meters 5 Unlock Company Profile
Aclara Power-Line Systems 5 Unlock Company Profile
Elster Electricity 5 Unlock Company Profile
Intel 5 Unlock Company Profile
CAS Tecnologia S/A 5 Unlock Company Profile
Omron Tateisi Electronics 5 Unlock Company Profile
Embertec 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

General Electric (GE) is one of the leading patent filers in smart grid metering. The company’s patents are aimed at systems, methods, and apparatus for powering an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) communication board.

A smart power meter may include both a meter metrology component configured to monitor the amount of energy supplied via a power line and a universal serial bus (USB) device controller configured to interface with a USB connection. An AMI board configured to facilitate communication over an AMI network may include a USB host controller configured to communicate with the USB device controller. The USB host controller and the AMI board may be powered by the USB device controller via the USB connection.

Other prominent patent filers in the space include Toshiba and Honda Motor.

By geographic reach, Honda Motor leads the pack, followed by Elbex Video and Haier Group. In terms of application diversity, Watsco holds the top position, followed by Sense Labs and Honda Motor.

Smart grid metering can revolutionise the way electricity is consumed and managed by providing real-time data on energy usage. It facilitates efficient energy distribution, empowers consumers to make informed decisions about their usage, supports demand response programmes, and promotes grid stability.

To further understand how environmental sustainability is disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Sustainability – Thematic Research.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.