The best companies in green technologies

EconSight ranking of those companies and research institutions that are in the position to shape green technological progress in the years to come. Since patents are a forward looking indicator, we can expect significant advances in green technologies from these companies and institutions.

This analysis answers the question of which companies and research institutions are particularly suited to make a significant contribution to climate protection, climate adaptation and sustainability due to their strong innovative power in new technologies.

In the climate protection and sustainability discussion, companies are primarily seen as „climate sinners“. In the current trend toward sustainable investment, they are evaluated primarily in terms of their negative contribution, for example in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. This ignores the fact that climate targets cannot be achieved without the innovative strength of companies and research institutions.

We analyze the innovative power of companies and research institutions in a total of 90 climate protection and sustainability technologies (greentechs) using the international patent system with a focus on the highest quality patents – the world class patents. The result is a list of 2500 companies and institutions which are in the position to shape green technological progress in the years to come. Since patents are a forward looking indicator, we can expect significant advances and revolutionary developments in green technologies from these companies and institutions.

The results are clustered into five major green technology areas: Energy and Material Efficiency, Renewable Energy and Storage, Mobility, Sustainable Consumption and Climate Change Mitigation. These clusters show that it is far from being just a best-of of renewable energy technologies. These are an essential part of the analysis, but equally important are energy and material efficiency technologies that can lead to energy savings or more efficient production. Adaptation measures to the climate change already underway cannot be ignored. Here, too, technological progress can limit the negative effects, at least in part.

In addition to the global view, the analysis shows the most innovative companies in climate protection and sustainability technologies in the individual countries. Identifying the national champions can help to better dovetail national policies, economic activities and societal goals.

Background information

Focus on quality instead of quantity

Conventional methods of patent analysis usually focus on the number of patents. However, these analyses do not take into account the country-specific differences of patent offices and therefore usually lead to unsatisfactory results. For example, researchers in China are encouraged by tax breaks to patent as much as possible in order to increase the relevance of China as a research location. Simply measuring patent activity with a focus on new applications exaggerates the importance of certain countries and distorts the overall picture. Moreover, it does not take into account how relevant the respective invention is, since every patent is counted indiscriminately. Accordingly, these traditional approaches measure activity rather than quality.

Quality as a combination of patent coverage and patent relevance

The present analysis is based on the PatentSight approach, which assesses the strength of each patent worldwide. To determine the quality of individual patents, market coverage and technological relevance are determined (competitive impact).

Focus on the top 10% – world class patents

The relative assessment of global patents based on individual patent strength allows a quantifiable division into important patents and less important patents. This circumvents the distortions in the patent system described above. EconSight focuses its analysis on the so-called world class patents: the best 10 percent of all patents within a defined technology, measured by individual patent strength.

In this analysis, patents are identified and counted according to the reporting date concept. This means that every year as of December 31, all active and published patent families and patent applications are included in the analyses. Patent families are counted that have at least one legally valid patent or pending application. This approach differs from other patent analyses where, for example, only new patent applications per year are counted or all patents – including inactive ones – are used.

Instead of only measuring the dynamics of the development, the approach used focuses on the absolute size and strength of a patent portfolio. In this analysis two points in time are used: 2015 and 2021. For each point in time, all patents published and granted up to that date as well as pending applications are identified. All patents still active from previous years are also taken into account.

A patent is the result of research usually carried out by several researchers, often from more than one institution/company and sometimes from more than one country. The question arises as to how these patents should be counted and to whom they should be attributed. In this study, geographic attribution is based on the residences of the inventors involved. For example, if researchers with an address in France are named on a patent, that patent is attributed to France. If the patent is a research collaboration with additional researchers from other countries, the patent is also assigned to these countries – it is assumed that the technological competence exists in each country involved. The headquarters of the applicant company is not relevant for this analysis. For example, it is possible that a patent of a company based in Germany involved only researchers residing in the USA, because the company maintains a research site in the USA. In this case, the patent would be assigned to the USA, since the research work was performed exclusively there. The german company would then show up in the lists of companies with patents invented in the USA. A typical example of this is the automotive industry where suppliers work closely with manufacturers and sometimes perform research close the manufacturing sites in different countries.

Basically, for international research collaborations, there is a choice between pro rata counting, where only a fraction of a patent is attributed to each participating country, and full counting, where the patent is attributed in full to each participating country. In this study, the full count is used. An example can illustrate the advantage of full counting: A country with internationally well-connected companies or research institutions would be assigned significantly fewer patents under fractional counting than a country whose companies conduct purely domestic research. Full counting ensures that international research collaborations, which generally achieve significantly better results, are taken into account appropriately.

Renewable Energy & Storage Energy & Material Efficiency Climate Change Mitigation
Algae 3D Printed & Robotic Automated Building Advanced Insulation Materials
Battery Handling and Other Battery Tech Additive Manufacturing Biochar, Torrefaction, Biomass Pyrolysis
Battery Technology Chips of Reduced Power Consumption CarbonCapture & Carbon Sequestration
Biomass_Biofuel_Biogas Digital Agriculture, Precision Farming Climate Adaption Agriculture
Double Layer Capacitor, Supercapacitor Dynamic Glass Climate Adaption Health
Energy Storage Devices Efficient Building Climate Adaption in Infrastructure_Extreme Weather
Energy Storage_Heat, Mechanical, Pressure Efficient Glas, Ceramic, Sand Production Climate Relevant Agriculture Production/Adaption/Forrestation
Floating Wind Energy Systems Efficient Metal Processing Drinking Water Purification and Biological Water Treatment
Fuel Cell Efficient Production, Chemical, Petrochem, Textile Earthquake_Tsunami_Protection
Fuel Cell Manufacturing Energy Efficient Computing Forest Fire Warning
Green Hydrogen Production Energy Efficient Lighting, Building, Office GHG Cement Reduction
Heat Pumps HVDC High Voltage Direct Current GHG Management System
Hydrogen Generation and Storage MLED, Micro-LED GHG Reduced Rice Production
Lithium Batteries OLED GHG Reducing Animal Fodder
Maritime & Hydro Power Power & Energy Saving Meat Analoge
Nuclear Fusion Reactors Power Saving Wireless/Connected NOx Removal
Organic PV & Perovskit Smart City Water Desalting
PEM Fuel Cell Smart Factory
Photovoltaic AC/DC Conversion Smart Grid & Smart Meter
Photovoltaic Others Smart Home
Silicon Photovoltaic Superconductor
Solar Thermal Energy Urban Logistics & Automated Warehousing
Solid State Battery
Wind Energy Mobility
Active Traffic Control
Sustainable Consumption Battery Charger For Vehicle
Agricultural  Waste Handling & Reuse Climate Efficient Ship Propulsion
Aquaculture Connected Cars & Road Traffic Interaction
Biopolymers Efficient Car Design, Weight Reduction, Aerodynamics, Tires, Rolling Resistance etc.
Cement Substitution, Recycling and Waste Reuse Efficient Car Management
Marine Recycling & Waste Management Efficient Traffic/Car Management/Platooning
Plastic, Glass, Paper, Electronics & Consumer Waste Recycling Electric Vehicles
Recycling Electrical, Solar, Fuel Cell Aircraft
Sustainable Packaging Exhaust Catalyst
Waste & Refuse Management Hybrid Vehicles
Waste Gas, Garbage Handling, Waste Combustion Low Sulfur Marine Diesel
Maglev & Hyperloop
Platooning
Railroad & Tramway
Synthetic Fuels

The global share allows for a robust comparison of technological competitiveness

Since worldwide patent numbers continually rise, an increase in a company’s patents per technology is first of all a sign of increased patent activity but it is not in itself a sign of increased competitiveness in this technology. Increased activity can be offset by an even higher activity by a competitor in the field. However, if one puts the patent activity of a company in relation to the worldwide patent activity, the result is the global share of the company in this technology. This shows the importance of a company compared to the global dynamics in this technology and at the same time the relative competitiveness compared to other companies.

The change in global share shows the development of competitiveness

The development of the global share over several points in time shows the increase or decrease of a company’s competitiveness over time. Instead of using growth rates (which, even with the same absolute change in patent numbers, are mathematically smaller when applied to larger shares than when applied to smaller ones), the time series analysis focusses on the change of the global share in percentage points. This indicator shows the size of the change and adequately describes the increase (or decrease) in the company’s technological competitiveness.

The global share allows for the internal comparison of competitiveness across technologies

A standard comparison of technologies within a company would be done by comparing absolute patent numbers. However, some technologies are more patent-intensive than others. This is especially true in the case in electronics. Therefore, a comparison of a patent-intensive technology to a less patent intensive technology only describes patent activities and reveals little about the relative competitiveness in these technologies. Analyzing the global shares of the company’s patents per technology allows for a sound comparison of the competitiveness of each technology.

3D printed houses or robotic automation in construction.

Production of diverse products and spare parts for mass customization according to individual requirements instead of mass production. While in conventional production objects are usually machined out of a block of material, in 3D printing the object is built up layer by layer.

Technologies around waste treatment planning and execution, especially business methods and processes around waste categorization, payment and export optimization, and waste labeling and sorting methods.

technologies for early detection of tsunamis, floods, hurricanes and other environmental extremes.

Developments in health care against increasing diseases such as malaria, Zika, Nile fever, etc.

technologies to adapt to higher temperatures, an altered precipitation regime, changes in the hydrologic cycle, soil fertility, air pollutants, and the spread of invasive species.

Fully digital development of buildings in models to optimize construction costs, for example via material savings. In addition, the data can flow into building management, for example to optimize maintenance intervals.

Polymers made from renewable raw materials, such as celluloses or lactic acid, which are sustainable and environmentally friendly due to their production and/or biodegradability.

The conversion of carbon compounds from biogenic sources (e.g. biowaste, manure, wood from short-rotation plantations, etc.) through various technical steps and processes into electrical power or energy carriers such as biogas or biofuels.

Energy converters that convert chemically bound energy, often H2 and O2, into electrical energy. Besides hydrogen, other fuels such as methanol or natural gas can also be used, but then with additional process steps.

Shifting control and software to decentralized end devices, as opposed to the cloud and centralized solutions. Although technical reasons such as data security and response speed are in the foreground, this can also reduce the high power consumption of server farms.

Technologies to avoid rejects and to produce glass and ceramics more resource-efficiently.

Technologies for energy-saving and resource-optimized production in chemistry and related areas.

Technologies for the energy-optimized production of metals. Research activities focus on increasing the efficiency of melting and holding furnaces. In addition, optimized waste heat utilization also plays a role. In pig iron production, the focus is also on profound conversion of the reduction process to avoid process emissions.

All-electric vehicles and battery-powered vehicles, but not hybrids.

Partial or all-electric propulsion in aviation with electricity from renewable sources or from fuel cells. Due to the high weight of battery storage, hybrid systems will play an important role in the foreseeable future.

Feed additives to optimize the digestion of livestock. The aim is to reduce methane emissions from animals.

This field covers energy-efficient building electronics and terminal equipment in home and office environments. This includes energy-saving measures for office equipment as well as efficient lighting technologies in buildings and the control of ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

This technology field includes all technologies around energy saving measures for computer hardware, e.g. stand-by, power-down and sleep functions, but also efficient server farms and power saving measures of larger computer installations.

This area includes technologies for thermal insulation, passive cooling, ventilation systems, heat pumps, thermochromic glasses and other energy-efficient building technologies.

Energy-optimized „white goods,“ washing machines, dishwashers, dryers, stoves, refrigerators. As a rule, reduced power consumption is the main focus of research.

This field includes diverse technologies to increase the efficiency of wireless and wireline transmission networks and energy-saving measures in Ethernet and cellular networks, such as adaptive transmission rate controls and stand-by technologies in networks and controllers.

The purpose of energy storage is the absorption and time-delayed availability of energy. Examples are pumped storage, compressed air storage or heat storage.

Accumulator or battery that has a solid electrolyte consisting of polymers or oxides, e.g. garnets, and is less sensitive to electrolyte loss and ignition than technologies with liquid electrolytes.

Products mostly on a vegetable basis (pea proteins, etc.) which serve as meat substitutes. The focus is on texture adaptations and fermentation technologies in particular.

Geothermal energy uses the earth’s heat for direct or indirect energy generation. This can be used directly to heat buildings, for hot water or to generate electricity. The advantage lies in the weather-independent and thus controllable production.

HVDC is a DC power transmission technology that was developed in particular for long-distance electricity transmission and promises lower transmission losses than AC transmission technology. At the entry and exit points, there is usually a transformation from or to alternating current.

Modern rail-like transport systems in which vehicles are held in suspension by magnets without contact and thus have to overcome much lower frictional resistance than vehicles rolling on rails with wheels. In hyperloops, air resistance is additionally reduced with the help of lower air pressure in the tubes.

The technology field includes the various aspects of water treatment for industrial purposes, as used in the environment of semiconductor manufacturing, laboratory materials or industrial water purification. Not included are sewerage and pipes, as well as drinking water treatment, especially in households.

Thermochromic or electrochromic glass, especially for buildings and large window areas for heat or radiation management

Diverse Batterietechnologien, insb. zum Einbau und Verwendung von Batterien, Einzelteile von Batterien (sofern direkt Batteriebezogen), Batterieunterstützungs- und Batteriemanagement-Technologien, sowie weitere weniger bekannte Batterietechnologien, die noch nicht einzeln erfasst sind (sonst siehe dort).

Various battery technologies, in particular for the installation and use of batteries, individual parts of batteries (if directly battery-related), battery support and battery management technologies, as well as other lesser-known battery technologies that are not yet covered individually (otherwise see there).

Sodium Batterien haben ähnliche Eigenschaften wie Li-Ionen Batterien sind aber grösser in ihrer Struktur und damit schwerer. Es wird erwartet, dass die Vorteile in der Ladezeit, der besseren Leistungsfähigkeit bei kälteren Temperaturen sowie im günstigeren Preis aufgrund besserer Materialverfügbarkeit liegen.

Sodium batteries have similar properties to Li-ion batteries but are larger in structure and therefore heavier. It is expected that the advantages lie in the charging time, better performance at colder temperatures and cheaper price due to better material availability.

Lithium-Eisenphosphat Batterien weisen eine geringe Energiedichte auf als Li-Ionen Batterien, weshalb sie kaum im Fahrzeugbau verwendet werden. Die Vorteile liegen in der Langlebigkeit, wodurch sie prädestiniert sind für feste EInbausysteme. Weiterhin sind sie vergleichweise sicher, da sie nicht überhitzen können.

Lithium iron phosphate batteries have a lower energy density than Li-ion batteries, which is why they are rarely used in vehicles. The advantages are their longevity, which makes them predestined for fixed installation systems. Furthermore, they are comparatively safe, as they cannot overheat.

Photovoltaischer Anlagenbau, PV Betriebs-und Integrationsmanagement, PV Einzelteile (sofern PV bezogen), und weitere PV Technologien, die noch nicht einzeln erfasst worden sind (sonst siehe dort).

Photovoltaic set-up, PV operation and integration management, PV components (if PV related), and other PV technologies that have not yet been covered individually (otherwise see there).

Wärmepumpen arbeiten im umgekehrten Sinne wie ein Kühlschank. Sie extrahieren Energie aus der Umwelt (Luft, Erde, Wasser) und wandeln sie in Wärme um. Forschung geht in Richtung industrieller Nutzung, wofür höhere Temperaturen und die Anpassung an unterschiedliche Umweltbedingungen notwendig sind.

Heat pumps work in the opposite sense of a cooling fridge. They extract energy from the environment (air, ground, water) and convert it into heat. Research is moving towards industrial use, which requires higher temperatures and adaptation to different environmental conditions.

Schwimmende Offshore Windkraftanlagen können weiter entfernt von den Küsten errichtet werden als traditionelle bodengebundene Windkraftanlagen. Die technische Herausforderung liegt in der Stabilität der schwimmenden Plattform.

Floating offshore wind turbines can be built farther away from the coast than traditional ground-based wind turbines. The technical challenge lies in the stability of the floating platform.

Im Gegensatz zu klassischen Lithium-Ionen Batterien sind bei Bipolarbatterien die Kathode und die Anode auf einem gemeinsamen Elektrodenträger aufgebracht. Der Vorteil gegenüber Lithium-Ionen Batterien ist der geringere Platzbedarf aufgrund weniger Bauteile und Verbindungselemente. Der Strom fliesst über die gesamte Fläche der Batterie. Es wird erwartet, dass die Batterie in Elektrofahrzeugen zu deutlich höheren Reichweiten führt.

In contrast to classic lithium-ion batteries, the cathode and the anode of bipolar batteries are mounted on a common electrode carrier. The advantage over lithium-ion batteries is the smaller space requirement due to fewer components and connecting elements. The current flows over the entire surface of the battery. The battery is expected to lead to significantly higher ranges in electric vehicles.

Treibhausgasreduzierte Gaskraftwerke erreichen durch die zusätzliche Nutzung der bei der Verbrennung entstehenden Abwärme einen höheren Wirkungsgrad. Zudem sollen die entstandenen Klimagase direkt umgewandelt oder solidifiziert und abgeführt werden.

Greenhouse gas-reduced gas-fired power plants achieve higher efficiency by additionally utilizing the waste heat generated during combustion Ideally, the climate gases produced are to be converted directly or solidified and discharged.

Power grids and power distribution with communicative distribution and control. These can be found in decentralized energy generators (e.g. wind turbines), but also in modern vehicles. In the future, the aim is to build such systems in larger regions as well, in order to efficiently link many decentralized generators and consumers.

Devices in and around buildings consisting of sensors and network components. The focus is on the intelligent energy-efficient interaction of the devices.

This field describes technologies around nuclear fusion power generation, and includes stellarator, tokamak, and similar technologies.

Gas filter systems, capture devices and carbon sequestration processes enable the direct binding of the CO2 produced. Ideally, the recovered CO2 is used again as a raw material and is removed from the cycle in a bound form. In most cases, these are industrial gas scrubbing plants and filters.

Electrical storage devices that store charges statically in a field. These can be passive battery alternatives in particular, but small capacitors for electrical devices are also included.

Charging systems in vehicles (e.g. hybrids) and of vehicles (electric vehicles)

Lithium accumulators, i.e. rechargeable electricity storage devices based on Li-ion as the electrolyte (and not lithium batteries in the true sense).

Tidal power plants, current and wave power plants for electricity generation

Self-luminous micro-LEDs as a successor to backlit LCD, especially for TV and screens with lower power consumption.

Electrification, sail or wind propulsion on ships as an alternative to the heavy oil currently used.

Packaging based on renewable raw materials, e.g. cellulose, especially for the circular economy

OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes, organic LEDs) as successor to LCDs and in competition with micro-LEDs, especially for TVs and screens. Specific organochemical dyes are used as materials.

Collective group of non-silicon solar cells, based on organic dyes (polymer cells), usually with lower efficiency and (inorganic) tandem/perovskite cells with higher efficiencies.

Conversion technology from DC to AC voltage for photovoltaic systems.

Low temperature or solid polymer fuel cell with a polymer electrolyte.

Support and optimization technologies in agriculture, e.g. use of drones or satellites for resource-saving yield optimization

Wiederverwendung von Produkten aus Produktionsprozessen wie aus Abfällen diverser Art, insb. aus Industrieprozessen aber auch Haushalten.

Agriculture in clean rooms and artificial atmosphere, even in cities.

Classic silicon solar cells, which convert sunlight directly into electrical energy on the basis of doped silicon semiconductors.

Solar thermal systems which, unlike photovoltaic systems, do not generate electricity, but heat which can be stored in hot water tanks, for example. Depending on the technologies, different high temperatures can be generated, up to process heat temperatures in concentrating plants.

Verschiedene Technologien zur Reduktion oder Filterung von NOx, N2O und anderen höheren Gasen

Superconducting materials that allow low-loss conduction of electric current below a transition temperature. In general, electrical resistance is only removed at very low temperatures (transition temperature). Research is focused on developing materials to achieve this effect at much higher temperatures.

Fuels, esp. for mobility, produced from non-petrochemical raw materials, esp. Fischer-Tropsch and similar processes.

Conversion of biocarbon, esp. carbonaceous waste to carbon or methane using various processes.

Digital business methods for reducing greenhouse gases or adapting to increasing environmental damage, e.g. by evaluating and optimizing the costs or efficiency of processes. Also included are model systems, AI-assisted optimizations or test processes, as well as various financial, insurance and measurement methods around climate effects, predictions or adaptations.

Alternative cement production methods and intelligent processes to reduce CO2 emissions in cement production

Drones, autonomous vehicles and robots in container terminals, high-bay warehouses or as urban delivery variants, as well as modern urban goods distribution systems

Die ressourcenoptimierte Vernetzung von Verkehrsteilnehmern jeder Art, Verkehrsleitung und Steuerung. Ebenso sind Verkehrseffizienztechnologien wie intelligente autonome Fahr- und Kommunikationssysteme Teil der Definition.

networking in industrial production, to the completely integrated factory. An essential part of this technology is predictive maintenance systems, which include elements such as monitoring, data collection and image analysis, fault diagnosis and networked control of production. A small area is also adaptive control systems as applied to automated factories (automated container terminals and goods transport, autonomous „assembly lines“).

The technology focuses on hydrogen production with the help of renewable energy, esp. electrolysis and fuel cells with electricity from photovoltaics and wind turbines. For quick near-term use, blue hydrogen production from natural gas is also an option.

Power generation by rotors, kites or other wind-moving installations. Wind power specific components such as rotor blades are also included.