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Energy harvesting market sees 20% growth

Posted: 20 Nov 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:energy harvesting  wireless sensor  supercapacitor 

The energy harvesting market is set to grow over the next five years, generating more excitement than sales opportunities today, according to Raghu Das, CEO of market research company IDTechEx.

IDTechEx forecasts that in 2015 the global energy harvesting component market will be 41.2 million units with a value of $1.285 billion. This will grow to 135.7 million units shipped in 2020 with a value of $3.29 billion. Over the period the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in terms of units is predicted to be about 26 per cent and for value the CAGR is about 21 per cent reflecting downward movement of average selling prices of units.

"After some original excitement energy harvesting is pretty much in the chasm of despair right now," Das said.

In smaller applications, such as wireless sensor nodes (WSNs) and mobile consumer electronics the cost compared with battery technology remains prohibitive. But for larger scale applications, in automotive, in industry there are increasing opportunities for energy harvesting sub-systems, Das added.

"The cost of a coin cell from Asia is about 10 cents. If you replace that with an energy harvester you also have to local storage such as a supercapacitor or a rechargeable battery and the costs can be up to $5 to $10," he observed.

The larger applications are where the action is for things like regenerative braking on automobiles and to take energy from the heat of the exhaust system. Here the harvesting is in the tens of watts and even kilowatts and of course these systems have an impact on the fuel efficiency of an automobile, an important metric for buyers.

There are moves to cover vehicles, such as golf carts, with solar panels to increase the independence from charging stations. Moves to electric vehicles will only make such developments easier to integrate, said Das.

Other areas of success include one-off companies such as Pavegen Systems that provide energy harvesting floor tiles. These can be used so that the foot-fall of crowds can be used to power essential systems—such as emergency lighting in sports stadia—or transport stations.

Of course it is a bit like taxation, making everyone work that bit harder to fund centrally provided resources, but nonetheless Pavegen is proving popular with clients ranging from airports to railway stations and schools. Pavegen sees it as converting wasted kinetic energy from footfall into renewable energy.


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