This patent landscape report was commissioned by the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) and focuses on desalination technologies, and in particular on desalination technology integration with renewable energy sources. Desalination is in principle a particularly suitable solution to a large number of areas with possible water shortages that are close to coastal areas or island locations. However, desalination has traditionally been considered as a very expensive and ‘luxury’ solution, in particular due to its high energy cost, but also due to the relatively low number of scalable technologies.
The report reviews key desalination technologies that are currently commercially deployed (with some indicative energy spend figures), and technologies currently in the R&D phase. We also review the ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ modes of integration with renewable energy sources. This patent landscape report on desalination-related patents identified 4551 patent families (including utility models) that claim inventions related to desalination of water, and 921 families describing the combination of desalination technologies with the use of renewable energies. Based on this patent collection various patterns of patenting activity and innovation in the area of desalination are detected, with a separate focus on the use of renewable energies for desalination.