The technology industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by factors such as the need for improved energy efficiency, integration of renewable energy sources, and demand for grid reliability and resilience, thereby growing importance of technologies such as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), sensors, communication networks, data analytics platforms, and control systems. These technologies enable efficient energy management, demand response programs, predictive maintenance, and integration of distributed energy resources. By optimising energy usage, enhancing grid reliability, and facilitating the integration of renewable energy, IoT innovation in smart grids is revolutionising the energy sector and paving the way for a more sustainable and resilient future. 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 Internet of Things: Smart grids. 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, digital twins, and network-on-a-chip are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Intelligent embedded systems, smart factory systems, and smart grids are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are contactless verification, wearable physiological monitors, and software defined wide area network, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for IoT in the technology industry
Smart grids is a key innovation area in IoT
Smart grids represent modernised electricity networks that employ digital technology to efficiently monitor and control the distribution of electricity from suppliers to consumers. These advanced grids leverage two-way communication and automation, enabling utilities to effectively monitor, detect, and promptly respond to fluctuations in local electricity consumption. Moreover, smart grids facilitate the seamless integration of renewable energy sources into the overall electricity network, promoting sustainable energy practices. By enhancing reliability, security, and operational efficiency, smart grids play a crucial role in shaping the future of energy management.
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 160+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established technology companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of smart grids.
Key players in smart grids – 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 grids
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
State Grid Corporation of China is a leading patent filer in smart grids. One of the company’s patents focuses on a method for analysing user load and time information. When an enterprise operates part-time, the operation periods are adjusted, electricity prices are obtained for those adjusted periods, and multiplied by electricity consumption to calculate enterprise charges. When the enterprise operates full-time, electricity consumption in each hour is adjusted, multiplied by respective electricity prices, and accumulated to determine the total electricity charge for the enterprise.
By geographic reach, ams leads the pack, followed by Consert and Sun Electric. In terms of application diversity, Lennox International holds the top position, followed by SK and Transition Technologies.
IoT innovation in smart grids has transformed traditional power grids into intelligent, interconnected systems. Smart grids leverage IoT technology to enable real-time monitoring, analysis, and control of energy generation, distribution, and consumption.
To further understand how IoT is disrupting the technology industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Internet of Things – Thematic Research.