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Germany leads in climate-friendly innovations according to DPMA
Photo: Amol Mande/Pexels

Not only in terms of political will, the conversion of industry and society in Germany to a sustainable and climate-friendly use of resources of all kinds is progressing. According to a data collection and an analysis conducted by the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA) on the occasion of its expert conference “DPMAnutzerforum 2022” in March, German companies have a leading position in climate-friendly innovations and technologies on their home market. Measured by the number of patent applications with effect for Germany, the office said, “German companies, research institutions and independent inventors are at the forefront both in renewable energies and in technologies serving climate-friendly mobility”. Nevertheless, the dynamics in energy and mobility differ significantly: “While innovation activity in electromobility and alternative energy sources has increased significantly in recent years, the development in alternative energy generation has stagnated for years and is significantly below the 2012 level.” The number of patent applications with effect for Germany published by the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) and the European Patent Office (EPO) had even slightly decreased compared to the previous year. About 1,000 representatives of industry, law firms and IP service providers had registered for the event, which was held as an online conference due to the pandemic.

Germany is the country with the highest number of registrations in all the mobility technology fields examined. Among the technologies relevant for electromobility, the number of inventions in battery technology has increased particularly strongly: Last year, the DPMA and the EPO published 3,374 patent applications here with effect in Germany, 110.6% more than ten years ago. At the same time, there were 920 patents on fuel cells, an increase of 36.3% compared to 2012. For electric drives, 684 patents were filed, 50% more. However, the trends in the individual fields differ: while batteries (down 7.3%) and e-drives (down 4.9%) saw slight declines in 2021 compared to the previous year, the figures for fuel cells rose sharply (up 89.8%), with around half of all patent applications published in 2021 on fuel cells and e-drives coming from Germany. At the same time, for batteries, patents from China have increased strongly year-on-year with a plus of 59.3%. In the manufacturer ranking, BMW is the only German company and the only car manufacturer in the top 5 for batteries (rank 4). For fuel cells, Bosch and Audi top the list. For e-drives, Audi ranks first ahead of Bosch, BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler.

Germany also has a leading position in climate-friendly innovations in the field of renewable energies (solar technology, hydropower, geothermal energy, biogas) in a comparison of countries over the past three years. As far as wind power plants are concerned, however, Denmark leads the ranking ahead of Germany. Overall, the registration level for renewable energies is significantly lower than ten years ago: While 2,246 patent applications were published in 2012, in 2021 there were only 1,099 (minus 51.1%). The decline is particularly strong for solar technology with minus 62.3%. Since 2016, the annual number of published applications on renewable energies has stagnated at 1,100 to 1,200. Possible reasons for this could be the worsening economic and political framework conditions compared to previous years.

“In view of the technological upheavals in the automotive industry, the result of our analysis in the field of alternative drive technologies is an encouraging sign,” said DPMA President Cornelia Rudloff-Schäffer. “However, it is clear that we also need clean electricity for electromobility. In the fight against climate change, the way energy is generated plays a key role. Moreover, the current political situation shows that we need to become less dependent on fossil fuels. That’s why more innovation momentum is needed again in renewable energies as well.”

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