Ally Winning, European Editor, Power Systems Design
As the July/August edition of Power Systems Design Europe is my first issue as European editor, I’d like to take a second to tell you a little about myself. Since I graduated in electronics from university, I have written for a variety of magazines in the UK, as well as worked in-house at a global catalogue distributor. Engineering has always interested me, and learning and writing about technology is something I have always enjoyed. I am very excited about this new role and look forward to bringing you the latest news and features from the industry.
One of the reasons that I am so enthusiastic about this particular role is that power is one of the big areas of innovation in the industry at the moment. There are challenges at every level. At the largest scale, renewable energy generation will have a major impact on the whole world. It is just a matter of when, not if. Energy from the sun, wind, waves and rivers will provide the majority of our energy needs, and a secure, carbon-free future.
Generating energy from the environment is not solely the preserve of massive infrastructure installations. At the smallest scale, scavenging minute amounts of energy is also a challenge for designers of electronics systems. Remote sensor nodes are key to the Internet of Things, and many of the 50 billion things connected to the Internet by 2020 will be devices like these. Often placed in small places that are out of reach, especially in industrial applications, these devices will likely have to perform for long times between battery changes, or even without batteries at all, so scavenged energy will be critical to gain the information required to allow the system’s artificial intelligence to make the best informed decision.
Also critical to the Internet of Things is the data centre. These huge computing centres have sprung up all over the world, to such an extent, that they are estimated to consume about 3 percent of the global electricity supply and account for about 2 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. New power solutions that even save a small proportion of the energy used could result in massive savings.
Power systems design is also critical to the success of the electric vehicle market. The main drawbacks to the adoption of electrical vehicles are cost, range and charging time. All of these bottlenecks are slowly being solved by power engineers. With innovations in the area happening at an increasing pace, it won’t be too long until the performance of electrical powertrains can compare favourably to combustion engines.
These are just a few of the larger challenges that spring to mind when thinking power innovation. In reality, every industry sector will benefit from smaller, cheaper and more efficient power designs. It is one of the most exciting areas of the market at the moment, and will no doubt, be one of the most influential. I look forward to sharing future innovations with you, both in the magazine, and online.