China has made significant progress in developing new energy sources such as solar energy and wind power in recent decades. However, commercial exploitation of shale gas in China is in the very early stages, in sharp contrast to that in the United States. Patents related to shale gas exploitation are analyzed by using data mining and patent maps. The findings show that shale gas exploitation involves complex technologies that technological accumulation is a long-term process. Despite decades of rapid growth, significant technology gaps still exist for Chinese enterprises and technological factors could be the bottleneck of China's exploitation of its massive shale gas resources. Meanwhile, foreign enterprises have applied for a large number of patents in China. Chinese enterprises might have to obtain licenses from foreign patent holders, which could have important implications for shale gas exploitation in China.
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