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Patent Landscapes

IRENA is mandated to assist governments in energy planning for more efficient and effective RET and innovation strategies. In order to fulfil its mandate, IRENA needs to play an important role in providing accurate and up-to-date technology information including patent information. IRENA can help disseminate patent information so that it can be used by policy makers for the assessment of RET, especially in developing countries. 
IRENA has been working with WIPO and EPO since 2011 to explore ways of enhancing the use of patent information in order to assist RET assessments for policy makers, in particular those in developing countries. The following three activities have been carried out so far. 

​​Patent Landscape Report on Renewable Energy Desalination Technologies 

As a case study to show the use of patent information, a patent landscape report was developed in collaboration with WIPO on desalination technologies and the use of renewable energies (the report is available at: Patent Landscape Report). The report provides the latest overview to date of patenting activity and innovation in this area, in order to support policy makers and investors in assessing technological solutions for renewable energy deployment. The study found that there were 4,551 patent families related to desalination of water, of which more than 20% represented the combination of desalination technologies with the use of renewable energy. For 80% of the RET, integration occurs with solar thermal energy (Figure 5).


The study also found that Japan had historically been the leading location for patent filing, although some German and US companies have shown increased patenting activity over the last five years, while South Korea and China have also become important locations for patent filings. Interestingly, only 1% of the total offices of first filing (OFF) were in Middle Eastern countries, where desalination has become one of the most important sources of water supply and where solar energy is abundant (Figure 6).​​

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