Companies in a wide variety of industrial sectors are already exploring the potential of energy harvesting (EH) technologies to reduce costs, increase energy efficiency, and power autonomous embedded systems.
The expected growth market is huge. An IDTechEx report, Energy Harvesting and Storage for Electronic Devices 2010-2020 (published in Oct 2010) states the market for energy harvesting devices will rise to $4.4bn by 2020, from $605m in 2010.
Examples of industry interest in EH technologies:
- Construction – Companies providing consultancy on construction and the built environment have realised that a technological edge provides great benefit, particularly when dealing with government clients who must consider sustainability and climate change
- Automotive – Leading auto manufacturers are interested in thermoelectricity to capture heat from exhaust fumes, and piezoelectricity to harvest energy from engine vibration
- Haulage – Equipping lorries with thermoelectric generators would save thousands of Euros in fuel costs over the lifecycle of the lorry
- Mobile telecommunication – Leading mobile phone manufacturers have active R&D programmes to minimise or eliminate batteries
- Sensors and instrumentation – A single battery change for an offshore oil or gas system costs over €1m and requires personnel intervention in hostile environments. EH-powered wireless sensor networks will be quick and cost-effective to deploy and maintain. A recent study has shown that over a typical 10-year lifecycle the cost of traditional battery energy supply exceeds that of an EH device