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Nov. 18, 2015: EE Times Europe

Energy harvesting market set for 20% CAGR

Energy harvesting is a market that generates more excitement than sales opportunities right now, according to Raghu Das, CEO of market research company IDTechEx. But it is set to pick up over the next five years.

IDTechEx forcasts 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% and for value the CAGR is about 21% 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 subsystems, 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 Ltd. 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.

Another company Das highlighted is EnOcean GmbH which has promoted the benefits of energy-harvesting wireless sensors for use as lighting switches for many years. Here the energy of manually operating the switch is used to send the control signal to remote lighting. Here, the big benefit is avoiding the need to route copper to the switch for cost reduction in office buildings and industrial facilities.

IDTechEx divides the energy harvesting market into four main categories; electrodynamic, photovoltaic, thermoelectric and piezoelectric. IDTechEx does not include RFID tags although, because they are powered to transmit by the incoming RF, they could be considered as a form of RF energy harvesting. Nor does IDTechEx include wireless charging.

In 2015 the leading contributor to the market by units is photovoltaic with 53%, while electrodynamic, such as is used in automotive energy recovery, is the major part by value also, 53%. IDTechEx forecasts.

The highest growth will come for thermoelectric energy harvesting moving from 1.9 million units in 2015 to 42 million in 2020, IDTechEx predicts, However, this will come with a steep drop in ASP from $22 to $9.

In 2020 electrodynamic or electromagnetic wireless charging will still be the largest part of the market with 34% by units shipped and 55 percent of the value.

IDTechEx produces reports on energy harvesting and is hosting an Energy Harvesting and Storage conference and exhibition in Santa Clara, California on Nov. 18 and 19.

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