The 1000 best companies in 100 green technologies

These companies are expected to make significant technological progress for more climate protection and sustainability in the coming years

Companies are part of the solution in the climate challenge

Climate protection and sustainability are among the most important global challenges. In the debate on climate change, companies are often the focus of criticism on the basis of their CO2 emissions alone. However, the climate targets can only be achieved through the joint efforts of politics, society and business. The innovative power of companies plays a central role, especially in the (further) development of green technologies that drive the energy transition. Without technological progress and implementation skills, the climate goals can only be achieved with massive – and difficult to enforce – social and personal restrictions. Companies are therefore part of the solution.

1’000 top companies in 100 green technologies

Based on a comprehensive technology analysis, EconSight has identified 1’000 companies that are expected to make significant progress in climate and sustainability technologies and thus play a key role in achieving climate goals. A total of 100 green technologies have been defined across ten technology sectors, representing the full universe of green technologies, from renewable energy and energy storage to efficiency technologies in various sectors, new forms of mobility, climate change mitigation technologies and sustainable consumables and recycling technologies. (list of all 100 technologies).

110’000 world class patents show the best and most relevant companies, not the greenest ones

The study is based on a new type of patent analysis. Patents are a forward-looking indicator and show which companies will be ahead in 3-5 years with more climate-friendly, efficient and sustainable products and processes. Our focus is on the quality of innovation, not the quantity. Specifically, we measure the companies with the most world-class patents in technologies. The aim of our analysis is to identify the companies with the best technological foundations to develop, for example, more efficient photovoltaic cells, better fuel cells, new battery recycling methods or market-ready carbon capture and storage facilities.

Companies have the technological capabilities, and we expect them to take advantage of them

We deliberately do not limit our analysis to companies active only in green industries, but also analyse companies in the oil/gas, chemicals, steel and automotive sectors. These companies have the competence to implement, but also the obligation to do so because of their technological capabilities. These companies can be expected to make significant technological progress towards greater climate protection and sustainability in the coming years.

GreenTech Rankings

This analysis aims to provide an overview of the leading companies in green technologies. The quality and relevance of the companies is analysed from different angles. Therefore, 15 rankings were compiled. The core ranking shows the top 1’000 companies in 100 green technologies. 10 sub rankings for aggregated technology categories such as new energy, new mobility, or energy storage are also available. In addition, three special rankings have been developed to identify the most versatile, the most dynamic, and the greenest companies. Finally, a ranking of the top universities and research institutions is provided.

  • The core ranking: The top 1000 companies in 100 green technologies – This is the most important ranking and identifies the 1000 companies that can be expected to make significant progress in climate protection and sustainability technologies and thus play a key role in achieving the climate goals.
  • The category rankings: The top 100 companies in the 10 green categories – These rankings show the most innovative companies in 10 sub-categories of the green tech universe from new energy to climate change mitigation technologies.
  • The most versatile companies – Major advances in green technologies can be expected in particular in the crosslinking of technologies. Technologically diversified companies are able to master the complexity and provide and implement complete energy systems.
  • The best universities and research institutions – The ranking illustrates the best universities and other research institutions in green technologies.
  • The most dynamic companies – Investors are particularly interested in companies that are highly dynamic. Based on the newly developed Econsight Innovation Dynamics Indicator, a ranking of the most dynamic companies in green technologies has been created.
  • The greenest companies – This shows companies with a green research focus. Only companies with more than half of the total patent portfolio in green technologies were considered and ranked.

In total, more than 110 thousand world-class patents have been identified in the 100 green technologies as of 31.12.2022. Of these, around 30% are held by the top 100 companies and over 50% by the top 1000 companies.

Toyota has the best portfolio in green technologies with almost 2000 world-class patents. Samsung Electronics and Ford follow in the other places on the podium. The best European company is Volkswagen in 24th place with almost 500 world-class patents.

The broad definition of green technologies means that very different companies can rank well in the ranking. Automotive companies, known as broad technology carriers, are included because of their patents in electromobility and battery technologies. Electrical companies are mainly positioned in energy efficiency, renewable energies, and battery technologies. Chemical companies are mainly found in efficient production and recycling, as well as battery technologies. The large IT companies are positioned in mobility and efficiency technologies, especially in networking.

New energy is one of the most important of the ten categories. A significant increase in energy production from renewable sources is a key prerequisite for achieving the Paris climate goals.

A total of 13 green technologies are included in this category. Classical renewables such as wind power and photovoltaics dominate, but technologies such as hydropower and biomass/biogas are also important. In accordance with the EU taxonomy, more efficient gas-fired power plants and nuclear fusion, which has been in development for a long time, are also included. However, these two technologies play a minor role in terms of patent numbers.

With more than 300 world class patents, the US company General Electric (GE) is the top-ranked company in the new energy sector. Most of GE’s world class patents relate to efficient gas-fired power plants and wind power technologies. Chinese utility State Grid of China follows in second place with nearly 200 world class patents. Vestas Wind Systems and Siemens Energy also have strong wind power portfolios with many world class patents and are ranked third and fourth.

AC/DC, Power Conversion, Photovoltaic Source
Biomass, Biofuel_Biogas
Floating Wind Energy Systems
Geothermal Energy
GHG Efficient Gas Power Plant
Heat Pumps
Maritime & Hydro Power
Nuclear Fusion
Organic PhotoVoltaic, Tandem & Perovskite PV
Photovoltaic Handling and Others
Silicon Photovoltaic
Solar Thermal Energy
Wind Energy

This category includes the various energy storage technologies. Battery technologies are by far the largest category. In addition to conventional lithium batteries, next-generation batteries are also included. There are also other types of storage, such as thermal storage, pumped storage and capacitors.

The leading companies in these technologies are fairly broadly positioned technologically, but most have a strong base in battery technologies. Battery manufacturers, automotive manufacturers and suppliers, and electronics groups dominate the top 20, with LG Chem, one of the main battery manufacturers for the automotive industry, at the top.

Lithium batteries are a very important area within energy storage technologies. Much of the world class activity of the leading battery manufacturers is in this technology. Car manufacturers are also pushing lithium batteries. In addition to lithium batteries, there is significant activity in solid-state batteries at LG Chem and Toyota.

Batteries in Stationary Applications
Batteries, generic or other applications
Bipolar Batteries
Double Layer Capacitor, Supercapacitor
Energy Storage Devices (Mechanical, Water, Heat, Pressure)
Lithium Batteries
Redox Flow, Alkali Membrane Fuel Cells
Sodium Salt Battery
Solid State Batteries

The hydrogen economy category includes all technologies that cover the value chain around green or blue hydrogen and fuel cells.
Hydrogen is expected to play an important role in the decarbonisation of the economy in the coming years due to its wide range of applications. For example, hydrogen can be used to power electric motors through fuel cells, to produce climate-friendly fuels, to store energy, to heat homes or to produce green steel. The main barriers to the use of hydrogen have been its costly production and the lack of infrastructure.
Research into the hydrogen economy has so far been dominated by major car manufacturers and suppliers. Toyota leads the way with more than 280 world class patents. The Japanese carmaker has been researching hydrogen technologies for many years and has adopted a dual strategy of developing and producing both battery-powered and hydrogen-powered cars. Hyundai is a distant second with 100 world class patents.
Although the automotive industry clearly dominates hydrogen research, the use of hydrogen in the mobility sector is controversial. A common criticism of hydrogen cars is that the use of pure battery electric cars is more efficient because the electricity can be used directly and does not have to be converted into hydrogen at great expense. On the other hand, there is no doubt that hydrogen has great potential in transport segments that cannot be electrified, or can only be electrified at high cost. These include trucks, ships, trains and aircrafts.

Fuel Cell Manufacturing
Fuel Cells, generic or other applications
Fuel Cell Stationary Power Systems
Green/Blue Hydrogen
Green/Blue Methanol Production
Green-Blue Ammonia Production
Hydrogen Electrolyzer, Electrolysis, Electrochemical H2 Pump
Hydrogen Generation and Storage
Hydrogen Piping, Pipelining, H2 LNG separation
LOHC/MCH Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier

The new mobility field primarily includes electric vehicles and fuel cell/hydrogen vehicles as well as closely related technologies such as batteries for mobility applications, battery charging stations or hydrogen tanks and filling stations. In addition, all activities related to connected transport and autonomous driving are included.
With a strong focus on electric cars, batteries and fuel cells, car manufacturers dominate the new mobility research landscape. Eight car manufacturers alone are in the top 20, plus three automotive suppliers. The ranking is led by Toyota and Ford.
Connected cars, smart cities and autonomous driving are also playing an increasingly important role in the decarbonisation of the transport sector. In the future, the use of these technologies should help to optimise traffic flows and reduce the number of accidents, thereby also reducing energy consumption. While the major car companies are also active in these areas, they are facing increasing competition from electronics and IT companies such as Samsung, Qualcomm, LG Electronics, Intel or Alphabet, all of which are prominently represented in the top 20.

Autonomous Road Vehicles
Battery Charger for Vehicle
Batteries in Mobility Applications
Electric Motors, Hairpin, Winding
Electric Vehicles, not Hybrid
Fuel Cell in Mobility
Hydrogen Fueling Station
Hydrogen Tank
Maglev & Hyperloop
Railroad & Tramway
Road Traffic Interaction / Connected Cars
Smart City

Even if the number of electric cars on the road continues to grow, internal combustion engines will continue to play an important role in the vehicle fleet for a long time to come. Traditional propulsion technologies will also remain important, especially for freight, shipping and aviation, where electrification is much more difficult for technical reasons. Therefore, in addition to technologies for new green mobility, transitional technologies are also important to ensure low-emission car, ship, rail and air transport. Examples include hybrid vehicles or more efficient aircraft turbines.

As expected, car manufacturers and suppliers dominate the field of efficient mobility. Ford and Toyota have the most world class patents and there are several other car manufacturers in the top 20.

Aircraft suppliers also play an important role. General Electric, Raytheon and Rolls Royce are three companies in the top 10 that are active in developing more efficient aircraft turbines.

Climate Efficient Ship Propulsion
Efficient Car Design
Energy Efficient Aircraft Turbines
Exhaust Catalyst
Hybrid Vehicles
Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG Fuel for Ships
Low Sulfur Marine Diesel
Synthetic Fuels

More efficient production technologies in the large, energy-intensive metals and chemicals industries, as well as in agriculture are key technologies in the efficient production category. 3D printing, for example, is important for climate protection because it has potential to make industrial processes more efficient, especially in terms of resources, by reducing waste and scrap. Downstream, this will lead to savings in transport. Smart connected manufacturing is expected to be more resource efficient with predictive maintenance systems such as monitoring, data collection and image analysis, fault diagnosis and connected production control.

In the area of efficient production, General Electric leads with 480 world class patents, followed by robotics manufacturer Fanuc and technology company Alphabet. Companies from a wide range of industries follow in the other places. Two aerospace companies, Raytheon and Boeing, are well represented, thanks in part to their many patents in the field of 3D printing. China Petrochemical, the world’s largest oil refining, gas and petrochemicals conglomerate, ranks fifth. US agricultural giant Deere is also in the top 10, while German industrial conglomerate Siemens is the top European company in 8th place.

3D Printed & Robotic Automated Building
Additive Manufacturing
CarbonCapture & Carbon Sequestration
Climate Efficient/Reducing Agriculture Production/Forrestation
Climate Efficient Metal Processing
Digital Agriculture, Precision Farming
Efficient Glas, Ceramic, Sand Production
Efficient Production, Chemical, Petrochem, Textile
GHG Reduced Cement Production
GHG Reduced Aluminium Metal Production
Smart Factory & Predictive Maintenance

Energy efficiency technologies aim to minimise energy use. Of high importance are technologies to reduce the energy consumption of ICT networks. Also important are automated warehousing and logistics solutions as well as intelligent power grids (smart grids), which aim to achieve the highest possible utilisation of the existing infrastructure via grid control.
Research on energy-efficient systems is dominated by the major mobile phone manufacturers and suppliers. The US chip company Qualcomm, the leading manufacturer of baseband processors for mobile phones, is in third place and the top 11 also includes all the major mobile phone manufacturers with Samsung, Apple, Huawei, BBK and Xiaomi.
However, the US technology company Amazon tops the list due to its extensive research into automated warehousing and urban logistics. In contrast, the leading research company in the smart grid sector is General Electric (12th overall). The first European company to appear is network equipment supplier Ericsson in 17th place.

High Voltage Direct Current Superhighway
Power/Energy Saving Wireless, Comm., Network technology
Smart Grid & Smart Meter
Smart Home
Urban Logistics & Automated Warehousing

The category energy efficient devices includes technologies that help to reduce the energy consumption of devices. Important research foci within this area are efficient lighting technologies, efficient devices in home and office environments and energy efficient ICT and computer hardware (e.g. efficient server farms).

Due to the importance of efficient lighting and energy saving devices such as mobile phones, electrical manufacturers are particularly active in this green technology category. At the forefront of research activities are the electronics manufacturers Midea Group and Samsung.

US chipmaker Intel also holds many relevant world class patents, particularly in the area of efficient ICT and computer hardware. Leading US technology companies Alphabet, Apple and Microsoft are also in the top 20. The first European company in the ranking is the German chip manufacturer Infineon in 13th place.

Energy Efficient Building Construction
Energy Efficient Home Appliances
Energy Efficient Lighting, Office
High Efficiency, GHG Efficient, Sustainable Energy related OLEDs
Power & Energy Saving, ICT, Computer Hardware
Power Saving Chips, Chips of Reduced Power Consumption

Climate change will continue to progress even if the climate protection goals set are achieved. Mitigating the effects of climate change is therefore an important technological challenge. This area of technology includes warning systems for extreme weather events, water desalination technologies and innovative insulation materials. Medical issues such as vaccines against emerging diseases are also relevant.

Compared to the other nine technology fields, this field combines very heterogeneous technologies. However, in terms of research activity, the top 5 are dominated by companies that are all at least partly active in the agricultural sector. The German chemical company Bayer is in first place, followed by BASF and the US agricultural equipment company Deere in second and the US seed company Corteva in fifth. Only the Japanese conglomerate Panasonic breaks into this phalanx, sharing second place.

In general, the patenting activity of companies in this technology sector is somewhat lower than in the other green categories. The active companies are generally not specialised in these technologies. Exceptions to this rule are companies specialising in agriculture, such as Deere, Bayer and Corteva.

Advanced Insulation Materials
Biochar, Torrefaction, Biomass Pyrolysis
Climate Adaption Agriculture
Climate Adaption Health
Climate Adaption in Infrastructure_Extreme Weather
Efficient Irrigation & Watering
Forest, Trees, Planting, Culturing, Afforestation, Fire Warning
GHG Management System
GHG Reducing Animal Fodder
IR/Heat Management, Heat Insulation Facades
N2O, Nox Capture
Vertical Farming
Water Desalting
Wood, Timber, Lignin, Tools, Building, Products

Technologies that support sustainable behaviour, consumption and use patterns and the circular economy can also make a significant contribution to tackling the climate crisis. While some elements of the circular economy, such as demand and consumption reduction, are already included in other technology areas, such as energy efficient devices, the focus here is on the recycling of (non-renewable) raw materials, materials and products. This includes the recycling of batteries and fuel cells, two technologies that will become increasingly important in the future. Drinking water treatment and new types of polymers also play an important role in sustainable consumables and recycling.

The German chemical company BASF and the Japanese cement manufacturer Taiheiyo Cement lead the ranking of the top research companies in the field of sustainable consumables and recycling. In addition to BASF, the top 20 also includes several other chemical companies, such as LG Chem, Evonik and DSM, all of which hold numerous world-class patents in the field of bio(degradable) polymers. A consumer goods company, Procter & Gambler, is also in the top 10, thanks to numerous patents in the field of recycling.

Battery & Fuel Cell Recycling
Biodegradable Polymers (not Health, Medtech)
Cement Substitution, Recycling and Solid Waste Reuse
Drinking Water Purification and Biological Water Treatment
Marine Recycling & Waste Management
Meat Analoge
Plastic, Glass, Paper, Electronics & Consumer Waste Recycling
Waste & Refuse Management

The previous rankings have shown that companies from a wide range of industries play a central role in green technologies. There are many electrical engineering and technology companies in the top 100, but also many car manufacturers and chemical companies. There are renewable energy companies with many world class patents, such as wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, but also some big oil companies that are increasingly diversifying into green technologies.

Investing in oil/gas companies or even traditional car manufacturers is often controversial. Many investors criticise the “green washing” of these companies, i.e. the fact that they promote a “green” image through PR measures, but in reality are not sufficiently committed to climate protection. On the other hand, some argue that the practice of “divestment” from companies with high CO2 emissions is less effective, and instead advocate that large investors exert more influence on these companies to push for greener corporate policies.

Regardless of who is right in this debate, it is of course an interesting question as to which companies are focusing their research on green technologies and at the same time have the best technology portfolios. Therefore, in addition to the previous evaluations, we have created a ranking taking into account only those companies for which patents in green technologies account for more than half of the total patent portfolio. To calculate this “green share”, all patents were taken into account, not just world-class patents, as these provide a better overview of the companies’ overall research activities.

In this ranking of the best green companies, Chinese railway manufacturer CRRC (922 world class patents) tops the list, followed by South Korean battery manufacturer LG Chem. Siemens Energy (9th) and Vestas (11th) are the best European companies.

The previous rankings of the individual technology sectors have shown that many companies are listed in several rankings and have correspondingly broad technology portfolios. In fact, 20 of the top 100 companies have world class patents in more than 50 green technologies.
Even more telling is the number of technology sectors in which companies are active. In 2022, more than half of the top 1000 companies were active in five or more technology sectors, and 64 companies were active in all ten technology sectors. It should be noted that this study focuses on world class patents. The overall activities of the companies are likely to be much broader when all patent activities are included.
This chart shows the technological breadth of the top 30 companies, sorted by the number of active technologies as measured by world class patents. In addition, the technologies are colour-coded according to the respective technology sectors. Panasonic is particularly broadly positioned technologically, with world class patents in 72 green technologies, followed by Toshiba (70) and Hitachi (67).

The top 100 overall green technology rankings are dominated by large international companies. These companies have the financial and technical resources to be active in many green technologies. For investors, however, it is not just the big names that are of interest, but also those companies that are both very dynamic in terms of research and improving the quality of their research. These companies will be tomorrow’s winners.

To identify these companies, we have developed the new Econsight Innovation Dynamics Indicator. The indicator is based on the dynamics of research activity and quality over the last three years. The best companies receive the maximum score of 100. In addition to the most dynamic large companies, the Innovation Dynamics Indicator also includes emerging start-ups and innovative hidden champions that are characterised by a combination of high research dynamics and increasing research quality.

Several companies scored the maximum 100 points in the Innovation Dynamics ranking, including emerging US electric car maker Rivian Automotive, established consumer goods company Procter & Gamble, China’s Haier Smart Home and US bank Wells Fargo. This heterogeneous mix of companies from a wide range of industries continues in the following places. The dynamism and increasing quality of these companies’ research activities should enable them to significantly expand their market position in green technologies in the future. This makes them particularly attractive investment targets.

The table shows the top 50 universities and research institutes in green technologies by world-class patents.

It has to be noted that a university or research institution can only be identified as associated with a patent if it is named as (co-)owner on the patent. However, patenting strategies can differ significantly between research institutions and universities. In China, in particular, it is common and politically desirable for universities to file as many patents as possible. US universities also tend to patent inventions and license them to companies. While some European research institutions and universities have followed this trend and set up technology transfer offices to manage and license patents, there are still many universities and research institutions in many countries that do not patent much.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences leads the ranking with more than 1500 world class patents, followed by Tsinghua University. The first non-Chinese research institution is the University of California in 7th place with 132 world class patents. US research institutions are also strongly represented in the top 50. The French research institution Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique is the best European research institution (14th place, 63 world class patents), just ahead of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft in 15th place. The only European universities in the top 50 are the Swiss EPFL (41st, 22 world class patents) and ETH (47th, 16 world class patents).

Company GreenTech Profiles

Whereas the rankings show the aggregated results for all technologies and 10 broad green technology categories, the technology profiles show green company activities in each individual technology. The technology profile shows the technological activities as world shares held by the company in each technology. This shows the importance of a company in that technology compared to the global level and at the same time its relative competitiveness compared to other companies. Profiles are shown for companies that are presented in the study. Profiles for other companies are also available, please refer to our products and services.

World Share = share of company patents in total global patents in technology, a bubble position at the top shows a high world share (vertical axis). The horizontal axis shows the dynamics of the technology as the change in world market share in recent years. Bubbles on the right side in the dark grey area are very dynamic.

Companies by Headquarter

The top 100 show a clear dominance of Japanese, American and Chinese companies, which together account for around three quarters of the top 100. Germany is the most strongly represented European country with 9 companies in the top 100. The US and Japan are also by far the most represented countries in the top 1000 (340 and 214 companies respectively). From a European perspective, the individual countries together are on a par with Japan with 212 companies.

The following chart shows all companies in the top 1000 by headquarter. Individual countries can be selected in the drop down menu. The table to the right lists all companies from a country perspective for a national ranking.

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  • The best 1000 companies in 100 green technologies
  • The best companies in green categories such as new energy, new mobility, energy storage, sustainable consumtion
  • The most dynamic companies in green technologies
  • The greenest companies

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Methodology and background information

This analysis shows which companies are expected to make significant technological advances in 100 green technologies in the future. The 100 technologies are grouped into ten categories:

  1. New energy
  2. Energy storage
  3. Hydrogen economy
  4. New mobility
  5. Efficient mobility
  6. Efficient production
  7. Energy efficient systems
  8. Energy efficient appliances
  9. Mitigating the impacts of climate change
  10. Sustainable consumables and recycling

The selection of technologies is deliberately broad and is based on the EU’s so-called Taxonomy Regulation. This sets out the criteria for classifying an economic activity as environmentally sustainable and thus provides the framework for facilitating sustainable investment. While the EU Commission starts from the sectoral structure and classifies economic activities in this sense, EconSight mirrors the taxonomy as closely as possible at the level of technologies and research activities. In other words, while the EU taxonomy represents economic activities in terms of “what is produced”, this analysis maps the necessary technological foundations in terms of “how it is produced”.

A list of the 100 green technologies with brief descriptions can be found at the bottom of the page

The 100 green technologies in the ten technology sectors contribute to enabling a more sustainable economy by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing resource/energy consumption or enabling adaptation to climate change. However, the impact and potential of different green technologies varies. For example, there are many technologies that have no or low CO2 emissions (e.g. many new energy technologies such as wind or solar). Other technologies, such as 3D printing, improve production efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions, but cannot eliminate them completely. Another example is the lower emissions of electric cars compared to hybrid cars.

To take account of these differences, we have ranked the ten technology sectors above according to their relevance to climate change mitigation (with new energy and climate change adaptation at the top and efficient mobility at the bottom). To derive the core ranking of the top 1000 companies, all world class patents in the 100 technologies were cumulated and a weighting factor was applied depending on the relevance of the technology sector.

When adding up the number of world-class patents per company, there is often a certain amount of double counting when a patent is allocated to several technologies due to its content. Within the ten technology sectors, these double counts are corrected so that the patents are counted only once. On the other hand, if a patent is assigned to two or more technologies in different technology sectors at the same time, these double counts are not eliminated, as patents that are relevant to two or more sectors tend to have a greater climate change mitigation potential.

EconSight specialises in analysing the technological activities of companies based on patents. As a forward looking indicator, patents map the likely product and process developments over the next 4-5 years. Patents are used to identify companies active in technologies. Not only patent applications are measured, but all current patent applications and patents published and granted since 2015 that are still valid today. 2015 was chosen as the starting year in order to focus on the latest technological developments.

The focus is on high quality patents. We evaluate all patents and are therefore able to distinguish relevant patents from less relevant patents. For the core ranking and the rankings in the top 10 green tech categories, only the top 10% of patents per technology were taken into account – the world class patents. The companies with the most world class patents are expected to make decisive breakthroughs in climate protection and sustainability.

The growing importance of ESG investing has recently come under criticism from two sides. On the one hand, there is criticism of “green washing”, i.e. ESG funds investing in companies that promote a “green” image through PR measures, but in reality are not sufficiently committed to climate protection. On the other hand, there are those who argue that the practice of ‘divestment’ from companies with high CO2 emissions is less effective and instead advocate that large investors exert more influence on these companies to push for greener corporate policies.

The aim of our analysis is not to fuel this debate, but to identify the companies with the best technological foundations to develop more efficient photovoltaic cells, market-ready fuel cells, attractive meat alternatives, sustainable marine propulsion systems, more efficient production systems, necessary carbon capture/storage facilities or better battery recycling in the future. This is why we do not limit our analysis to companies active only in green industries, but also deliberately analyse companies in the oil/gas, chemicals, steel and automotive sectors.

Even with a successful transformation of the economy towards green technologies, demand for energy sources such as oil and gas and raw materials/metals such as copper and steel will remain high for a long time to come. It is therefore crucial for the success of the energy transition that the major companies in these sectors significantly reduce their emissions through the use of technologies such as carbon capture and green/blue hydrogen. Fewer than 200 companies worldwide are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions from the corporate sector. The path to a net-zero economy is therefore through these companies. This is also because these companies have the financial resources and scaling capabilities necessary to successfully introduce or diffuse green technologies into the mass market.

The core ranking and the rankings for the ten green tech categories therefore do not indicate how green a company is, but rather how significant its research and development activities are in the field of green technologies. An important added value of our analysis is therefore to identify the companies that are best placed not only to successfully manage the energy transition, but also to drive it forward. This also provides valuable information for investors, as these companies are particularly attractive investment targets.

However, as the question of which companies are the greenest is of great importance to many investors, we have also included an analysis of the top 100 research companies whose research is mainly focused on green technologies. Specifically, we have only included companies where patents in green technologies account for more than half of the total patent portfolio.

In this study, the terms patents and patent families are used synonymously. Technically, the term “simple patent family” is correct. A “simple family” is a group of patent documents covering a single invention with identical technical content. The patents in a simple family all have exactly the same priority. The priority period begins with the first filing of an invention in any country. Within the following twelve months, the applicant is entitled to patent the same invention in other countries. For these subsequent applications, the applicant can claim the priority date of the first application. This means that for these further applications, this priority date is taken into account when assessing the novelty of the invention.

In this study, patents are identified and counted according to the reference date concept. This means that each year only all active and published patent families and patent applications at that date are included in the analyses. Only patent families with at least one legally valid patent or pending application are counted. This procedure 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 development, the approach used in this study focuses on the absolute size and strength of a patent portfolio at the respective current point in time. The cut-off date for data collection (31 December 2022) includes all granted patents published to date and pending applications from the last 8 years.

A single patent rarely describes a major significant development. As a rule, patents are written in a detailed and very technical manner. The non-expert cannot immediately recognise whether a patent is significant in the sense of a major technological advance or whether it is a small incremental innovation. An example may illustrate this: The iPhone is one of the most important inventions of the last 15 years, but there is no iPhone patent. However, there are hundreds of Apple patents that deal with different aspects of the mobile device. Taken together, these patents form the basis for the development of the iPhone. What the individual patents have in common is that they are all very highly valued in terms of quality. This high valuation is the central selection criterion for us in this study.

The more high-quality patents companies have in green technologies, the higher the probability that something significant will develop from this patent portfolio. A major breakthrough can be expected from these companies. EconSight evaluates all patents and separates the relevant patents from the less relevant patents. For this study, only the 10% most important patents per technology were identified – the world-class patents.

One exception is patenting in pharmaceutical technologies. Here, in many cases there is a direct so-called “patent to product mapping”, i.e. an assignment of a patent to a concrete product.

The number of high-quality patents held by a company in green technologies is measured. To determine the quality of individual patents, country coverage and citation frequency are determined. Country coverage calculates the worldwide legal coverage of patent protection. It shows how companies evaluate the importance of their own invention. The larger the number of countries in which the patent is filed, the more expensive the patent protection. A broader international country coverage thus signals that the patent applicant considers his patent to be promising (self-assessment). EconSight attaches particular importance to a realistic country classification, because although a patent can be filed in many countries, only a few countries are strategically relevant. It is therefore measured whether a patent has reached “critical mass” (several large countries such as the USA, China, Japan, Europe, but also central medium-sized countries such as the UK, Germany, South Korea). Whether a patent is additionally active in many small countries is irrelevant for the basic quality.

The citation frequency of the patent results from how often the examiners of the different patent offices refer to it and cite it. The patent offices use quite similar methods to check whether a patent application is new and inventive, and use other published patents for this purpose. This shows how important an invention is compared to other patents in the same technology (third-party assessment). Here, too, EconSight attaches particular importance to the relevance of the measured values. While other evaluation systems simply count citations or at best weight more recent citations higher than older citations, EconSight focuses on business-relevant citations. For example, the citation of a patent by an individual inventor is worth less than the citation by a large company such as Alphabet.

Individual patent strength as a combination of relevant country coverage (achieving a “critical mass”) and relevant citation frequency (“business relevant” citations) suggests what impact a patent family has on competition and allows a quantifiable classification into important patents and less important patents. EconSight focuses its analysis on the so-called world-class patents: the top 10 percent of all patents within a defined technology, measured by individual patent strength.

The companies’ patents are reported according to the ultimate owner principle. Each patent is assigned to the highest controlling economic unit (ultimate owner). Accordingly, all patents of Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche are assigned to the VW Group. The companies LG Electronics, LG Chem and LG Display, on the other hand, are independent listed companies and are therefore reported separately.

A minority shareholding does not result in economic control. For example, Daimler Truck Holding AG is listed on the stock exchange as an independent company and Mercedes-Benz Group AG holds less than half of the shares (30%, as of May 2023).

The Ultimate Owner principle also consolidates all acquisitions at the level of the controlling economic entity. For example, the activities of the robotics company KUKA are assigned to the Chinese Midea Group and Syngenta, acquired by ChemChina in 2016, is now operating under the name Sinochem Holdings due to a merger in 2021.

Furthermore, no distinction is made between private, listed and state-owned companies.

Technology Overview