I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Department of Energy web page today featured use of wind power in my hometown area, Lancaster County Pennsylvania. Two new wind power units were installed in early 2011. Built by GE.  They can be observed when driving into the county, crossing the river. Subject of discussion over Thanksgiving dinner.

That led me to think about wind power in Pennsylvania more generally. After all, we regularly see the wind turbines off the PA turnpike in Somerset, PA. An ounce of research indicated, again, built by GE. First installed October 2001. 

Then, thinking more, I recalled the US PTO announcement this past fall about GE’s extensive use of the greentech accelerated examination program. GE was awarded the 500th patent in the program for – you guessed it – wind power technology. See my October 17, 2011 post. GE had at that time 116 greentech patents.

In 2011, a brief patent search showed 210 patents have issued assigned to GE on the cover that refer to wind turbines! That is a lot. Putting that in context is the fact that last year, 2010, saw only 85 such GE patents, and the year before, 2009, saw only 41 such GE patents (2008 was 52; 2007 was 30; and 2006 was only 21). That is also called “building a patent fortress.”

Much hot, bitter, and salty press in 2011 about cleantech companies flailing and failing like Solyndra. Perhaps that is not the real cleantech story of the year.