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Energy Harvesting, Steady Growth and Sensible Increase in Opportunities Forecasted
Dr. Harry Zervos
APR 06, 2016 11:56 AM
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Energy Harvesting, Steady Growth and Sensible Increase in Opportunities Forecasted

by Dr. Harry Zervos

Developments of energy harvesting technologies in 2015 were pretty uneven, with some showcasing growth in interest as well as applications and others failing to meet expectations but despite limited growth expected in 2016 , by 2025 the market for transducers and power conditioning is expected to reach over $12 billion.  IDTechEx research (Energy Harvesting: Off-grid Renewable Power for Devices, Vehicles, Structures 2015-2025) also revealed new markets to grow into -- in vehicle applications for instance, where devices such as alternators that work backwards in conventional cars can provide torque boost and devices harvesting all linear rotational movement are being deployed. Technology developments, along with these and other applications being realized, have made energy harvesting an exciting space to operate in, despite the lack of consumer electronics traction.

Power issues  

Consumer electronics have high power requirements and as can be seen from the picture below, the maturity level for consumer electronics and wearables is still ways away from proliferated commercial products. This mostly relates to the gap between energy harvester power output and power requirements of consumer electronics devices.

Some wearables might have power requirements that are easier to satisfy than smart phones and tablets, and those might be the first applications that will bring about adoption of energy harvesting in this segment. But for the time being, the focus will remain on a variety of applications in other sectors; building and industrial automation, vehicle integration, even aerospace. 

Maturity of different forms of energy harvesting. Source: IDTechEx report Energy Harvesting: Off-grid Renewable Power for Devices, Vehicles, Structures 2015-2025,

Sluggish advances in piezoelectrics – increased efficiency for indoor PV

There is no leap forward in piezoelectric harvesting however. Advances promised by that industry such as affordable, reliable broad band vibration harvesters have not appeared as of yet and, increasingly, piezoelectric harvesters are being replaced by reliable and versatile electrodynamics in such things as industrial energy harvesters and under-foot generators – never the reverse. So take note technology developers in piezoelectrics harvesting: competition is heating up, electrostatic energy harvesting is also catching up and being late to the party is never the best way forward!

High efficiency photovoltaics are a different story though: Sharp and Alta devices are both looking to commercialize photovoltaic cells that offer vastly improved power output when compared to other technologies, 4-6 times improvement in some cases. These types of PV cells could enable new applications in market sectors where energy harvesting is already being deployed, or even create new markets by achieving power outputs that can put energy harvesting on the map for market sectors where its performance was previously not adequate.

Learn more about energy harvesting at the IDTechEx Show! in Berlin, April 27-28.

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