Griffith Hack Clean & Sustainable Technologies

Beaming power to earth from space by Justin Blows
December 7, 2009, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Feature | Tags: , , , ,

In what could be the most audacious clean energy plan this year, authorities in the US have approved Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to generate solar power in space and beam it to earth.

According to a press release, the experimental technology uses orbiting satellites equipped with solar cells to convert the sun’s energy into electricity, which is then converted into radio frequency energy that can be transmitted to a local receiver station. Space-based solar power has been researched in the U.S. for several decades and this summer the Japanese government announced plans to pursue a space-based solar program.

According to this report, the 200-megawatt orbiting solar farm would convert solar energy collected in space into radio frequency waves, which would be beamed to a ground station near Fresno, Calif. The radio waves would then be transformed back into electricity and fed into the power grid.

Justin Blows


Intellectual property and renewable Energy Technologies by Justin Blows

I came across this new & excellent report from Chatham House: Who owns our law carbon future?  Intellectual Property and Energy Technologies.

Firstly, let’s get the debate about whether patents are a barrier to the introduction of climate change mitigation technology to the developing world out of the way.  The report repeats others that the real issue is not the accessibility of technologies or the price of the patents, but the lack of capital and management in the developing world. Focusing on patents is a distraction from the main issues.  Similar arguments have been presented in report after report and I haven’t seen a credible response.  Please leave a comment if you have one!  Import tarrifs has also been cited as a problem elsewhere.

What jumped out at me was a great  discussion on common business strategies for using patents that we may see repeated in the growing renewable energy, or indeed any other cleantech, space, together with examples.

Enforcing patents is one business strategy.  The report cites the case of Samsung being sued by Texas instruments in the 1980s damaging its brand and blocking the US market to Samsung.  After vastly improving its patenting strategy the tables were turned and by the 1990’s Samsung was suing Texas instruments.  But the outcome of litigation is often uncertain.

Some of the multiple business strategies based around licensing may be a far better approach. Some business strategies include:

  • prototyping and licensing technologies;
  • granting a licence to a spin-out company;
  • divestiture licensing when a technology owner exits a business area;
  • controlled licensing to ration the flow of licenses to limit expansion of competitors;
  • pooling patents from multiple parties and sharing the licensing profits;
  • cross licensing technology in exchange to get access to technology you need;
  • establishing a technology standard based around the IP brought to the table by multiple parties, each piece of IP being essential to the standard
  • licencing to those you outsource production to;
  • license to influence the strategic development path of technologies; and
  • being a patent troll, that is enforcing your patents even though you have no intention to practise or develop the technology yourself, a somewhat contentious strategy.

The mobile telephone industry, for example, likes technology standards. In the case of the AirBus 380 the aircraft, the industry used patent pools and licensing for production.  I can see that these issues are going to be very important for areas such as, for example, clean coal were many large players are going to end up with large patent portfolios.

Justin Blows

Hopes high for Australian Renewable energy bill by Justin Blows

I found this article which talks about who will benefit from the Renewable Energy Bill.

Justin Blows

“Green power” claims may be illegal by Justin Blows

Many Australian power companies offer some form of  “green power” generated by a proportion, up to 100%, of renewable sources. But is it a “green wash”?

Now Australian government authorities, including the government accredited Green Power and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commision (ACCC) which polices for Deceptive and Misleading Conduct by corporations,  alledge that they may be illegally misleading consumers with statements such as:

GreenPower – a simple switch for you, significant results for our environment

The argument goes that the emissions saved by consumers using green power are simply spent by industry and so there is no net result for the environment.

The companies involved have apparently toned down their green claims to prevent the possibility of misleading consumers and costly action against them under the Trade Practices Act.

Greenwashing has recently attracted alot of attention from the ACCC and have released guidelines for companies marketing green and low carbon products.

Justin Blows

One third of UK power renewable by 2020 by Justin Blows
July 16, 2009, 9:56 am
Filed under: Feature | Tags: , , ,

According to this report, the UK will source one third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, mostly wind.  This may mean 7,000 new wind turbines in the UK. 

It is reported that every sector of the economy will be expected to cut emissions, although electricity generation and heavy industry will bear about half of the reductions.

Justin Blows

UK Energy generation

South Australia to boost renewable energy target by Justin Blows
June 3, 2009, 3:02 pm
Filed under: News | Tags: , , ,

According to this news item, South Australia wants to increase its renewable energy output target to 33% by 2020 and will allocate $20M towards investment in South Australia’s renewable energy sector.

This is a very ambitious target and exceeds the national target.

I note that the South Australian Premier Mike Rann intends to invest in research and development in renewable energy, and wants to be a “renewable hub for the rest of Australia”.

Our recent report on Australian Solar Innovation: Losing our Place in the Sun, however showed that less than 1% of Australian sourced solar patents issued in Australia originated from the state of South Australia.


Dr Justin Blows – Boardroom Radio Australia Broadcast by Griffith Hack

Solar Innovation Interview


Dr Justin Blows presented a webcast on the Toyota Prius and its approximately 2000 patents on the rise. Dr Justin Blows, Patent Attorney at Griffith Hack, Clean and Sustainable Technologies Group – Boardroom Radio webcast.