We had high hopes when the U.S. Commerce Department’s Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced in December a pilot program to fast track certain green tech patent applications. So what kind of crazy, innovative technology is the USPTO approving as quickly as possible? Nothing too outlandish, as it turns out—one of the first patents to be fast-tracked is Skyline Solar's Dual Trough Concentrating Solar Photovoltaic Module, a core part of the startup's High Gain Solar Arrays (HGS) system.
Skyline Solar claims that its system combines the durability of silicon solar cells with the low cost of thin-film technology. The company's HGS system uses single-axis tracking and metallic reflector racks that concentrate light onto strips of monocrystalline silicon cells—a process that offers ten times more energy per gram of silicon compared to traditional flat-panel systems.
As a result of being put through the USPTO, Skyline received its patent in just 10 weeks instead of the normal wait time of several years. So far, the USPTO has only approved 316 of 925 applications to the fast-track program, mostly because of patent applications that aren't part of the class or subclass (PDF) necessary to qualify as green tech. And according to Green Tech Media, these classes and subclasses represent just a small portion of actual clean technology. Still, we're happy to see even a few hundred useful patents get fast-tracked through the system.