Clean Energy Patent Growth Index Shows Record High for 2012


The Heslin Rothenberg firm’s Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) 2012 Year in Review was published earlier this month. Always an interesting read, the CEPGI is a quarterly publication that tracks grants of U.S. patents directed to clean energy technologies.

The 2012 roundup reports that granted green patents hit an all time high of 3061 for last year, a rise of 730 patents, or more than 30%, over 2011.

The 2012 CEPGI technology breakdown shows biomass/biofuel patents with the biggest gain, up over 70%, growing from 104 patents in 2011 to 179 last year. Solar patents rose by more than 60%, and wind and hybrid/electric vehicle patents were up 40%, though fuel cell patents grew by only 8% from 2011 to 2012.

However, the fuel cell sector was still the winner in total patent grants for 2012 with 1024. Solar took second place with 862 patents, with wind in third place. There were also 286 hybrid/electric vehicle patents granted in 2012, 61 tidal energy patents, 21 hydroelectric patents, and 14 geothermal patents.

The number one green patent holder for 2012 was Toyota, with 207 patents (which CEPGI dubs the “Prius effect”). GE, with 175 patents, took second place, with GM in third place with 122. Samsung and Honda took fourth and fifth place, respectively, with 94 and 87 patents each.

The rest of the top ten green patent holders consisted of Mitsubishi, Vestas, Siemens, Hyundai, and Ford.

One interesting finding is that the population of green patentees expanded substantially in 2012. More particularly, there were over 1000 entities granted clean energy patents in 2012, 200 more than in the previous year.

The CEPGI also includes more detailed data broken down by subsector and geography. More info on the CEPGI can be found here.

Eric Lane is a patent attorney at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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