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Reproduced from European Patent Office, International Energy Agency; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new report from the International Energy Agency and the European Patent Office tracks the upward march of clean energy patent applications worldwide — and warns that it's not enough.

Driving the news: The report shows a resumption in clean energy patenting after a slump in recent years, and that innovation in these technologies is outpacing fossil fuel-related patenting.

Why it matters: While aggressively deploying existing tech is a huge part of the climate puzzle, the report says that significant evolution and invention is also needed.

  • "Technologies still currently at the prototype or demonstration phase represent around 35% of the cumulative CO2 emissions reductions needed to shift to a sustainable path consistent with net-zero emissions by 2070," the report states.
  • The IEA and EPO note that recent annual growth in low-carbon patenting is slower than it was earlier in the century before the slump.

What they're saying: “This report is a clear call for action to step up research and innovation into new low-carbon energy technologies, and improve existing ones," EPO President António Campinos said in a statement.

How it works: The report tracks hundred of thousands of low-carbon energy patent applications filed since 2000 and groups them into three buckets:

  • Low-carbon energy supply, like wind and solar.
  • Tech that boosts efficiency and switching to clean energy in sectors like transport, industry and buildings.
  • A cross-cutting bucket of "enabling" tech like batteries, hydrogen, smart grids, and a lot more.

The big picture: That middle bucket accounts for about 60% of low-carbon energy patents over the last five years.

  • Patents on the supply side have been on a downward trend over the last decade.
  • The groups said in a summary that this reflects the maturity of some sectors, like solar PV, which has "not yet been followed by a new wave of improvements to other renewables" like ocean energy.
  • Patenting in enabling tech, which includes batteries for EVs, has seen the highest growth in recent years.

The intrigue: Electric vehicle and battery-related inventions have been a major driver of patenting growth over the last decade.

  • That's visible in the report's breakdowns by company.
  • Among the top 15 applicants from 2000-2019, six are automakers — Toyota, GM, Ford, Honda, VW, and Hyundai — and six are battery suppliers.

Of note: The analysis looks at patent applications filed in multiple locations, thus covering "inventions deemed important enough by the inventor to seek protection internationally."

  • This is a "relatively small percentage of applications" and can be "used as a sound basis for comparing international innovation activities," IEA and EPO said.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 26, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Exclusive: The big push for a clean power mandate

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A wide coalition of environmental groups on Monday will urge President Biden and Capitol Hill leaders to require major increases in zero-carbon power generation in the infrastructure package lawmakers are crafting.

Why it matters: Their letter today backing a "clean electricity standard" (CES) signals a growing push behind the idea across a big swath of the environmental movement.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Death toll mounts as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies

Palestinian Muslims exchange wishes for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, near a razed building in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on May 13. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At least 109 Palestinians and seven people in Israel have been killed since recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas began Monday.

The big picture: Israel began massing troops on its border with Gaza on Thursday, launching attacks from the air and ground as Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.