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Digitalisation in wind and solar power technologies

H.L. Kangas, K. Ollikka, J. Ahola and Y. Kim

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2021, vol. 150, issue C

Abstract: Smart energy transition includes a widespread deployment of clean energy technologies and intelligent energy management with information and communication technologies (ICTs). In this paper, the smart energy transition is studied from the viewpoint of the technology convergence of renewable energy sources (RESs) and ICTs. Two important, fast-growing and weather-dependent renewable energy generation technologies: wind power and solar PV (photovoltaic) are studied. This paper provides technology convergence analyses of RES and ICT inventions based on international patent data. Digitalisation is changing the whole of society, and according to the results, this transition can also be seen in the studied renewable energy generation technologies. The digitalisation of RES production covers technologies that control, manage and optimise electricity production in different intelligent ways. Differences between wind power and solar PV technologies are found: in the case of wind power, the development from virtually no ICT solutions to partial technology convergence with the ICT sector is straightforward. However, in the case of solar PV, the development of basic technologies has been even faster than the development of the solar PV ICT solutions, which may indicate the immature nature of solar PV technologies during the studied years. The digitalisation of the renewable energy sector poses challenges for RES companies in following and predicting ICT development and opportunities for innovations and collaborations with ICT companies. This conclusion can also be expanded to society and policy levels because focusing on only a narrow field when planning innovation policy instruments can negatively impact the country's competitiveness.

Keywords: Smart energy; Renewable energy; Digitalisation; Technology convergence; Patent (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2021.111356

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