The US Patent and Trademark Office granted a record 3,061 clean energy technology patents in 2012, a 30 percent increase over the previous year and led by Toyota, according to an index published by Cleantech Group.
The Clean Energy Patent Growth Index, which provides a measure of inventive activity and evidence of the effectiveness of research and development investments, tracks US patents for solar, wind, hybrid and electric vehicles, fuel cells, hydroelectric, tidal and wave, geothermal, biomass and biofuels and other clean renewable energy.
Toyota had 207 patents in 2012, beating out last year’s top patent holder GE to take the No. 1 spot on the CEPGI. GE added 175 patents in 2012. Toyota received the highest number of clean energy patents in every quarter of 2012.
GM took the third spot on the CEPGI with 122 patents, followed by Samsung with 94, Honda with 87, Mitsubishi with 75, Vestas with 65, Siemens with 53, Hyundai with 48 and Ford with 41 patents in 2012. Nissan fell out of the top 10 on the index in 2012.
Honda continues to lead in overall clean energy patents granted since 2002, but is losing ground every year to other companies, Cleantech Group said. GM is close behind Honda in terms of patents granted since 2002, followed by Toyota and GE. Five of the top 10 overall clean energy patents holders are auto manufacturers with the remaining five including an assortment of wind, solar and fuel cell makers.
The fuel cell sector saw patents rise 8 percent to 1,024 in 2012, leading all other sectors for the total number of patents. Solar, which trailed fuel cells with 862 patents, experienced a 70 percent increase from 2011, according to CEPGI. Wind, which took the No. 3 spot in 2012, saw its number of patents jump 40 percent from 2011.
Meanwhile, biomass and biofuel patents led the lower tier with 179 patents, reflecting a 70 percent increase from 2011, followed by tidal energy, which recorded 61 patents.