Brookings: Albany Metro Generates 2nd Most Wind Patents in US, 14th Most Solar
Area is a prolific producer of advanced (nano) green materials patents
Cleantech innovation is blowing strong in the Albany–Schenectady-Troy metropolitan statistical area (MSA), with a new Brookings Institution report showing local inventors generated the second greatest amount of wind energy patents in the nation between 2011 and 2016. The area also outshined most metros in producing solar and advanced green materials (e.g., nanotechnology) patents, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of the Brookings data.
During the six-year period, the Albany-Schenectady Troy MSA generated 778 cleantech patents – the 23rd greatest amount out of 379 metros. Of that total, 110 were wind patents. Only the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin MSA generated more of these patents, totaling 172. The Albany metro also ranked 14th for solar patents (95) and 24th for energy storage patents (92).
The area’s highest volume cleantech patent was of advanced green materials (150), which improve durability and efficiency as well as reduce toxicity. This includes nanomaterials that enhance solar and wind systems, polymer materials that improve energy storage and conversion, lightweight plastic composites used for wind turbines and solar panels, and the semiconductors and inverters that make electronics more efficient. The area ranked 22nd for advanced green materials patenting.
The Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA’s high rankings across several cleantech innovation categories is a testament to the size and quality of the region’s R&D workforce. Brookings counted 2,673 cleantech inventors in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA during the 2011 to 2016 period – the 17th greatest amount in the nation. While many cleantech innovators work at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, an entire ecosystem has grown in the region to include Environmental One (E/One), Espey Mfg. & Electronics Corp., International Electronic Machines (IEM), Plug Power, Simmetrix, Mohawk Innovative Technology, BioEnergy SP and Combined Energies. In addition to housing innovative cleantech companies such as Magnolia Solar, the SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany has also produced cleantech startups such as BessTech and Paper Battery.
Cleantech R&D Engines
Another factor contributing to the region’s high volume of cleantech patents is its concentration of public and private research and development (R&D) engines, such as GE Global Research and the Center for Future Energy Systems (CFES) at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy. SUNY Poly also has several R&D centers dedicated to cleantech innovation, including:
- Collaboration for Leveraging Energy And Nanotechnology Program (CLEAN);
- Energy and Environmental Technology Applications Center (E2TAC);
- New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium (NY-PEMC);
- Photovoltaic Control and Monitoring Center;
- Solar Power Energy Development Center; and
- S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC).
NY-PEMC, for example, is a public-private partnership between SUNY Poly and GE that aims to produce next-generation semiconductors that are smaller, faster and more energy efficient than those made of silicon. Last February, the consortium announced the first successful production of Silicon Carbide (SiC)-based patterned wafers, which have clean energy, automotive and aeronautics applications.
Below is a sampling of cleantech patents with Capital Region inventors:
- Advanced Green Materials
- High efficiency quantum dot sensitized thin film solar cell with absorber layer , Magnolia Solar
- Fabrication of surface textures by ion implantation for antireflection of silicon crystals, SUNY Research Foundation
- Energy Storage
- Power conversion system with a DC to DC boost converter, Combined Energies
- Reactant conditioning scheme for fuel cell systems, Plug Power
Advancement of the Capital Region’s cleantech industry is a priority outlined in Capital 20.20, the region’s five-year economic development plan. CEG has been promoting the region’s cleantech industry at conferences across the country, including NY BEST Capture the Energy Conference, International Battery Seminar & Exhibit and Intersolar Summit USA East. CEG is also launching CEG SolarGen, an initiative to help Capital Region manufacturers install solar systems and propel the region’s standing as upstate’s leader in non-residential solar power generation. These steps, coupled with local investments made locally by Environmental One Monolith Solar and other organizations, are positioning the region’s cleantech sector for future success.
Click here to learn more about how CEG SolarGen can help Capital Region manufacturers install solar systems.
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