12 May 2022
A joint study published today by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) uses patent statistics to reveal the trends and dynamism in the exciting field of hydrogen that can be produced using renewable electricity via electrolysis. Among the report's key findings was that patent filings for hydrogen production technologies have grown on average by 18% each year since 2005.
Renewables-based hydrogen can be used as feedstock for the chemical sector and as fuel in fuel cells where the only by-product is water. It can also replace fossil sources in synthetic fuels, for example, when combined with captured carbon. Additionally, hydrogen is abundant and can be obtained through the electrolysis of water, using renewable electricity, in the presence of electrocatalysts. These factors make hydrogen very attractive as a green energy source - but only provided that its production, through electrolysers, is green too.
The demands for cleaner energy have never been greater. Although patent filings show a steep increase, the report underlines that major innovations in electrolyser technology are still needed to further reduce its costs and make it market-ready at industrial levels. This situation could change in the future with the recent introduction of major programmes worldwide such as the European Commission's dedicated "Strategy on hydrogen". With its charts and commentary, today's report is useful to technologists, companies and investors wanting to better understand these rapidly expanding technology domains.
Through its environmental policy, the Office is committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The EPO-IRENA study is focused on renewable energy and therefore contributes to UN SDG 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all).