Inventions in the field of hydrogen technology are steadily increasing

According to a new joint study by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) on hydrogen technology patents, hydrogen innovation is shifting towards low-emission solutions, with the European Union and Japan leading the way and the United States losing ground.

According to the report, among the many potential end uses of hydrogen, the automotive sector has long been the focus of innovation activity. Patent applications continue to increase in this sector, especially from Japanese companies.

Such momentum is not yet evident in other end-uses, although politicians and the media have in recent years highlighted the potential of hydrogen in decarbonising long-distance transport, aviation, power generation and heating. One bright spot is the use of hydrogen to decarbonise steel production, for which there has been a recent increase in patent applications.

The study also shows that more than half of the $10 billion in venture capital investment in hydrogen companies during 2011-2020 went to start-ups with patents, even though they account for less than a third of all start-ups in the dataset. A patent application is a good indicator of whether a start-up will continue to attract funding in the future, as more than 80 % of the final-stage investments in hydrogen start-ups in the period 2011-2020 went to companies that had already filed a patent in areas such as electrolysis, fuel cells or low-emission processes for producing hydrogen from gas.

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