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Innovations in Energy Harvesting Technologies (Technical Insights)

  • December 2013
  • 67 pages
  • Frost & Sullivan
Report ID: 1939384


Table of Contents

Nine Pronged Technology Evaluation --Energizing Microelectronic Devices with Ambient Energy

Energy harvesting technology is based on the concept of harnessing ambient energy to generate electric power. Harvesting energy for low-power devices is gaining momentum as it holds the potential to address challenges associated with battery technology for myriad applications. Harvesting energy on a small scale has been of immense interest for various developers focussing on applications, such as wireless light switches, wireless sensor nodes, implant devices, and variable traffic signs. The research service captures innovations in energy harvesting technologies that enable efficient management of power requirements for different applications.

Research Scope

Energy harvesting is not a new concept. Most of the energy harvesting technologies harness solar, wind, water, and thermal energy to generate electricity in large scale. The energy captured from these ambient sources can also enable low-power consuming devices to recharge or even eliminate the use of batteries to power up the applications. Energy harvesting is stated to be a key enabling technology for wireless sensor networks (WSNs) and the Internet of things (IoT). This research service analyses the innovations in energy harvesting technology and also find the opportunities in diverse markets.

The research service offers insights primarily on the nine dimensions listed below:
• Year of impact
• Market potential
• Global footprint
• IP Activity
• Funding
• Breadth of industries
• Impact on megatrend
• Potential points of convergence
• Size of innovation ecosystem

Key Findings

Year of Impact
Widescale adoption of energy harvesting technology would take some time as the battery market is quite established and it is difficult to change the end user mind-set.
There are various industries, where energy harvesting is making inroads; and for some of them the technology has already in use. For example, the building and home automation industry has adopted this technology.

Global Footprint
North America and Europe are expected to be comparatively fast adopters and major markets for energy harvesting technologies.
APAC region would experience relatively slow adoption.

IP Activity
IP activity has increased since 2010 and has been considerably high in the last 4 years.
Major focus is on photovoltaic technology as it promises to have the widest application coverage.

Funding has been focussed on specific applications in the past few years.
The EU 7th Framework Programme has been funding a lot of research and commercialisation activities with both industry and academic participants.

Breadth of Industries
The primary benefit of energy harvesting technologies is elimination of batteries. Thus, energy harvesting technologies are actual enablers of the wireless sensor network and this capability is allowing energy harvesting to find applications in building and home automation, industrial, automotive, healthcare, military & defense, consumer electronics and environmental industries.

Potential Points of Convergence
Convergence with ICT and wireless sensors holds maximum potential in the near- to mid-term. It will enable a host of IoT applications and building energy management solutions.

Impact on Megatrend
Energy harvesting is perceived to have a strong impact on several mega trends as identified by Frost & Sullivan. Key mega trends are connectivity and convergence, health, wellness and well-being, "smart" is the new green and future infrastructure development.

Size of Innovation Ecosystem
A number of EH technologies are being researched by leading universities across the world and companies are also coming up with new products to tap the energy harvesting market. Regulatory & standardization bodies and alliances are accelerating the energy harvesting adoption process.

Market Potential
• Energy harvesting has high potential in various markets as it is a key enabling technology for low-power, maintenance-free electronic devices
• Key markets for energy harvesting include automotive, utility, industrial, military and aerospace, and building automation, and so on.

Technology Overview - Energy Harvesting

• Energy Harvesting technology makes use of existing ambient energy sources to power devices.
• This energy can be used for low-power applications and stored in a battery for future use.
• Micro energy harvesting systems generate electrical energy from various sources, such as solar, vibration, thermal, and human movements. Key types of energy harvesting techniques include photovoltaic, piezoelectric, thermoelectric, magnetic induction, electrostatic, RF.

• Battery powered devices have the inherent challenge of regular maintenance, which has hindered the growth of various technologies such as wireless sensor networks, ubiquitous monitoring, and so on.
• Energy harvesting can prolong the usage of battery powered devices; and in case of lower power requirements could become the sole power source.

Market Impact
• Energy harvesting is enabling wider adoption of wireless sensor networks, where it acts as a key enabling technology.
• Key opportunities lie in diverse applications, such as wireless sensor networks, homeland security, defence, aerospace, automotive, environmental monitoring, consumer electronics, medical (for example, health monitoring devices, implantable medical devices).

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