Energy harvesting is the conversion of ambient energy to usable electrical energy for purposes of powering portable electrical devices that in many cases rely heavily on batteries. The applications for energy harvesting technologies are as diverse as the variety of products that use batteries today, ranging from consumer electronics and personal accessories to medical devices, automotive systems, and military equipment. According to a new report from Pike Research, unit shipments for energy harvesting enabled devices will experience strong growth over the next few years, increasing from 29.3 million units in 2010 (mostly kinetic wristwatches and wireless sensor networks) to 235.4 million units by 2015 (comprising a much greater diversity of consumer and industrial applications).
“The adoption of energy harvesting technologies is being driven by both convenience and economic factors,” says Pike Research president Clint Wheelock. “As the capabilities and cost of the technology improves, energy harvesting will be an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional batteries for a wide range of consumer and industrial applications.”
Pike Research’s analysis indicates that the consumer market for energy harvesting will represent approximately 42% of all unit shipments by 2015. Key applications in this sector include mobile phones, laptop computers, remote controls, portable lighting, and the continuing market for wristwatches powered by kinetic energy. The cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts that industrial applications will represent the majority of the energy harvesting market, with a compound annual growth rate in excess of 100% for the sector as a whole. Key emerging industrial markets during that period will include wireless sensor networks (which will represent a large majority of the industrial sector), military devices, medical devices, and automotive devices.
The principal technologies used for the transduction of ambient energy into usable electrical energy include photovoltaic (PV), thermoelectric, piezoelectric, and electromagnetic. Pike Research forecasts that, between now and 2015, PV energy harvesting technologies will be most prominent in the market, capturing approximately 40% of total revenue share by the end of that period. Electromagnetic and piezoelectric technologies will each garner about one-quarter of the total market, with thermoelectric energy harvesting representing approximately 12%.
Pike Research’s report, “Energy Harvesting”, analyzes existing and emerging energy harvesting technologies in depth, looking at 15 consumer and industrial application segments. The report examines photovoltaic, piezoelectric, electromagnetic, and thermoelectric transduction methods for converting ambient energy, and includes an assessment of key implementation strategies for the most common energy harvesting technologies operating in portable, pervasive, and autonomous systems. Key industry players are profiled in depth and market forecasts, segmented by application and world region, are provided through 2015. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’swebsite.