BOULDER, USA: An increasing number of consumer and industrial products that are untethered from the electrical outlet will be powered by some form of energy harvesting (EH) technology in the near future. This technology, which converts ambient energy into useable electrical energy, may be used to power portable electrical devices that in many cases rely heavily on batteries.
Energy harvesting is becoming an increasingly viable source of power for a variety of devices, especially where the environmental and economic costs of maintaining batteries is untenable. Consumer products such as laptops and mobile phones are already being powered by energy harvesting technology. The energy sources available for ambient charging include electromagnetic radiation, thermal energy, and mechanical energy.
The technologies used for the transduction of these energy sources into useable electrical energy include photovoltaic (PV), thermoelectric, piezoelectric, and electromagnetic. According to a recent report from Pike Research, the deployment of energy harvesting will grow at a CAGR of nearly 38 percent over the next few years, resulting in annual shipments of energy harvesting enabled devices of 235.4 million units by 2015 (from a base of 53 million in 2012), comprising a great diversity of consumer and industrial applications.
Those shipments will translate into worldwide annual revenue from energy harvesting enabled devices of $9.5 billion in 2015, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts.
“Devices in settings with thousands of sensors that are diligently working to bring us information about temperature, humidity, security, machine health, structural health, and many other forms of data are becoming increasingly pervasive,” says VP, Bob Gohn. “In many of these applications, maintaining batteries is a major logistical and cost issue. Viable energy harvesting technology exists today and developers are fast becoming familiar with how to implement it into ever more-innovative devices.”
At the moment, the EH industry is going through a galvanization period, in which vendors, systems integrators, and end users all recognize that a joint approach in terms of standardization and initial market push will lead to an aggressive market acceptance curve. Pike Research’s analysis indicates that the consumer market for energy harvesting will represent approximately 42 percent of all unit shipments by 2015.
Key applications in this sector include mobile phones, laptop computers, remote controls, portable lighting, and the established market for wristwatches powered by kinetic energy. Industrial applications, however, will represent the majority of the energy harvesting market, with a CAGR in excess of 100 percent for the sector as a whole.