"The Power of Hydrogen" report | Patent filing activity in hydrogen technology SHARE

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Discusses The Power of Hydrogen report including significant findings, federal government incentives, where Australia fits etc.
Australia Energy and Natural Resources
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Taking a deep dive into patent filing data for hydrogen technologies, "The Power of Hydrogen" report was recently published by the IP Australia Patent Analytics Hub. The report provides valuable insights into the key players and technology trends in this critical area for global energy transition.

Global imperative to transition to renewable energy sources

As extreme weather events apparently resulting from climate change seemingly become more prevalent, the need to transition to sustainable, reliable and economical alternative energy sources is becoming more urgent. With an abundance of consistent sunlight, wind and available land, Australia is well placed to be a significant global player in the emerging renewable energy industry.

Australian renewable energy projects

According to the Australian Clean Energy Council, as of January 2024 there were 81 renewable energy projects about to commence, or already under construction in Australia, that involve a capital investment of some A$22 billion and will contribute around 13,000 MW of new energy capacity.

Australia well placed for clean hydrogen production and export

Australia has great potential to become a significant exporter of "green hydrogen" – hydrogen produced from renewable energy. There are multiple locations that have, or that are suited to development of, necessary enablers such as low-cost renewable energy, water availability, gas pipelines, electricity grid connectivity and road, rail and port infrastructure.

In view of Australia's extensive natural gas and coal reserves, Australia is also well placed to become a leader in blue hydrogen production, where hydrogen is produced from natural gas or coal, with carbon capture and storage.

It was predicted by ARUP in their November 2019 report to the COAG Energy Council Hydrogen Working Group that Australia could export up to 500,000 tonnes of clean hydrogen annually to Japan and South Korea alone. Subsequently, in a trade deal signed in January 2022, Australia committed to exporting liquified hydrogen and ammonia to Japan, with production for export from a liquified hydrogen facility (in this case producing blue hydrogen extracted from brown coal with carbon capture and storage) in Hastings Victoria set to commence from 2030.

Hydrogen supply partnership agreements have also been signed with Germany, the UK, Singapore and South Korea.

Federal Government Incentive for Hydrogen Production Projects

In the May 2024 Federal Budget, the Australian Government established the A$22.7 billion "Future Made in Australia" package, which among other programs, initiates the Hydrogen Production Tax Incentive. This program aims to accelerate hydrogen production projects by providing an incentive of A$2 per kilogram of renewable hydrogen produced for up to ten years per project.

The budget package also expanded the government support available under the Hydrogen Headstart program by committing a further A$1.3 billion to the original A$2 billion allocated in the 2023 budget. So, there is certainly a supportive incentives and funding framework in place in Australia to advance hydrogen technology related projects.

Global hydrogen patent filings

With this background in mind, and as a measure of global innovative activity in the field, IP Australia's Patent Analytics Hub published its "The Power of Hydrogen" patent analytics report in March 2024. The report analyses both global and Australian patent filing information relating to hydrogen technologies between 2010 – 2020.

Some of the more significant findings in the report are as follows:

  • Between 2010 – 2020, 32,885 patent families were filed relating to hydrogen technologies, and there was a steady increase in filing volume from 2014 onwards.
  • The leading global filer of patent families relating to hydrogen technologies is China Petroleum Corporation (1,313 patent families), with the next highest filers being Chinese Academy of Sciences (688 families), Saudi Arabian Oil Company (280 families) and Toyota Motor Corporation (278 families).
  • China is the largest originating country for hydrogen patent filings (17,264 families) by some margin, with the next highest being the USA (6,348 families), Japan (5,258 families) and South Korea (2,341 families).
    Notably, less than 5% of Chinese originating applications were filed as international (PCT) applications, whereas some 87% of US applications were filed using the PCT.
  • Of the 193 patent families relating to hydrogen technologies originating in Australia, the highest number has been filed by CSIRO (16 families), followed by Aquahydrex (9 families).
  • Australian applicants of patents relating to hydrogen technologies seek protection primarily in Australia, and with decreasing prevalence in USA, China, Europe, Canada and Japan.
  • The major foreign filers of patent applications in Australia relating to hydrogen technologies are Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp, Topsoe Holdings A/S, Linde Plc and L'Air Liquide Societe (in order of decreasing filings).
  • Of the global patent filings directed to hydrogen technologies during the 2010 – 2022 period, the majority relate to hydrogen production (18,611 families), followed by hydrogen utilisation (13,178 families) and then hydrogen storage and distribution (3,166 families), as shown in Figure 10 from the report reproduced below:


  • Within the hydrogen production technology segment, the most patent families relate to electrolytic production, followed by production from fossil fuels and then production from biomass and waste, with the least number of patent families relating to thermal water splitting processes, as shown in Figure 11 from the report reproduced below:


The leading hydrogen related technologies that are the subject of Australian originating patent families are shown in Figure 14 of the report, reproduced below.


Some interesting trends can be gleaned from the report.

While Chinese entities are by far the highest volume patent filers relating to hydrogen technologies, their focus appears to be largely directed to commercialisation in their local market.

A significant volume of patent filings relating to hydrogen technologies have been made by petrochemical companies, who appear to be preparing themselves for a renewable energy future, while leveraging their existing infrastructure and supply chains.

As noted above, Australia is well placed to be a major player in new hydrogen related industry, yet Australian entities have filed a disappointingly low number of patent applications in this technology field. If Australia is to develop a globally competitive hydrogen production and export industry a greater focus on developing, protecting and commercialising enabling technology is required.

How we can help

If you have an interest in hydrogen related technologies, we suggest you take a close look at the report as you may be able to extract further information that is relevant to your business.

It will be interesting to see how the patent filings evolve in the future as hydrogen related technologies mature and are commercialised.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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