When an innovator files for patent protection to an energy savings technology, details of that innovation are available for the public to understand and to improve upon. Moreover, it is quite likely that the energy innovator’s patent protection is limited by specific industry or technology. This means that the general concept of the innovation can be freely used outside of the specifically patented subject matter. For example, an energy innovation in glass-making could have broader applications outside of that specific technology area, and if the patent covers only glass making, other industries are freely able to use that energy innovation without incurring patent infringement liability. The disclosure of the technical details to those who can benefit from it also reduces the occurrence of duplicated efforts in development of important energy innovations. I believe these results are a net overall positive for society.
The downside to patenting of energy innovations is that those in the same industry or technology area may be prevented from benefiting from the innovation without incurring patent infringement liability. In the glass-making example, a patent to an energy savings innovation would prevent other glass-makers from benefiting from that patented innovation. However, in my opinion, those who do not seek to innovate to improve should not be allowed to be free-riders to those who invest in innovation.
So, I believe that your company’s energy innovations should be fair game for patenting. The rub is whether company management will realize the value of doing so.