As solar energy becomes a driving force in the energy markets, it is no surprise that many companies have stepped up to participate in this industry. Although efficient solar panel operation requires excellent photovoltaic cells, it also requires software to support operation of the panel installations to achieve maximum energy production and output. Companies have properly identified that many of these solar devices can be improved through better algorithms, particularly those involving AI. Panel Tracking, performance monitoring and even management of solar assets will all stand to benefit from these advances in software, streamlining the processes and creating greater efficiency. It therefore becomes important from a tech transfer standpoint to identify which companies are set to propel solar to the next level through these software advancements.
Defining a company as a top potential partner for tech transfer is, to at least some extent, subjective.
We have selected companies that offer a variety of different tech transfer opportunities. Each of the following companies represents a potential partnership opportunity in this area. Each potential partner is described in regard to its current commercial activities in this area, its patenting activity, the extent to which it is willing to co-own patents and its financial stability.
We review ten of the best companies for in-licensing research related to solar management software. We consider a variety of companies, from startups to well established corporations, with many different technological needs and product development strategies. We will preview one of these reports below.
Note - this company is listed on the NASDAQ; however its parent company is Total, the French energy conglomerate.
SunPower creates residential, commercial and solar storage solutions, including high efficiency solar panels featuring SunPower® Maxeon® cell technology. Although known for its commercial solar products, the company also has a very strong focus on residential solar power. In particular, it has announced multiple roll-outs of Virtual Power Plants (VPP). Each VPP involves its SunVault product, a battery system that enables its residential customers to store solar panel generated power. Customers in the geographic area defined by the VPP can sell power back to the grid. Increased efficiency would favor the SunPower residential products. SunPower also implements power management technology for large solar panel installations.
SunPower boasts of having over 1000 patents. We located 912 US patents and applications. Our own AI platform analysis located 35 relevant US patents and applications that focus or include solar cell power management technology. However, none of these relate to, or include, artificial intelligence or machine learning. Furthermore, many of these patents are older, which may indicate an appetite for new technologies.
SunPower co-owns relatively few US patents and applications with a partner that is not related to its parent company, Total. However, it does co-own US patents and applications with such entities as Intel and AT&T Mobility. It has made 8 acquisitions to date, including companies that create innovative solar panel hardware products and also software.
SunPower is a publicly traded company. Its stock price has swung widely. While it did experience total losses in 2017 and 2018, the company has shown a positive EBITDA since then. There are no indications of current financial stress or cash flow problems.