Drive to energy efficiency continues to provide opportunities

Ryan Sanderson, Senior Market Analyst for Power Management, IMS Research



Most will agree that 2012 proved to be a difficult year for the power electronics industry. Floods in Thailand resulted in a shortage of hard-disk drives, restricting PC production in the first half of the year. Global economic confidence worsened owing to increased uncertainty surrounding the Euro-Zone Crisis, and many semiconductor markets plummeted despite already low inventory levels. Despite this, some applications offered pockets of growth. Although market conditions remain unstable, this is projected to continue in 2013 and beyond. In nearly all of these, the common driver is the demand for higher efficiency, driven by either consumer needs or legislation. Several examples spring to mind: Demand for LED lamps and luminaires continues to grow, driving opportunities for power-supply and -semiconductor manufacturers. A key driver is the LED lamp's much lower power need to provide luminance comparable to incandescent bulbs. It is estimated that lighting currently accounts for approximately 19% of the world's energy use. IHS IMS Research predicts that, in 2016, around 15% of all lighting will use LEDs, reducing the global energy consumption for lighting by around 20%—a saving of $100 billion over five years. Power-supply efficiency in general is now a crucial factor for any OEM/ODM bringing a product to market, despite the majority of power supplies themselves being supplied by merchant vendors. The market for semiconductors in merchant power supplies is forecast to grow by more than $500 million from 2012 to 2016, driven by various methods to increase efficiency. One is demand for active PFC, including approaches which use SiC diodes. Another is the adoption of synchronous rectification at the output which is driving demand for additional MOSFETs. A third is the adoption of digital power techniques and components. The overall market for digital-power components—power supplies and ICs—has grown rapidly over the last few years but this has been mostly accounted for by telecom and datacom applications. However, the situation is set to change with design wins in lower cost applications such as notebook and adoption by merchant power supply vendors. This, along with the existing OEM adoption is projected to drive growth in a number of applications over the next five years. As well as generating, distributing, and monitoring power, it is also predicted that there will developments in the way we store energy efficiently over the coming years. Transitions from battery technologies such as lead-acid to lithium or other alternatives has already begun and is predicted to accelerate, particularly in applications such as UPS, energy storage for reserve power, and motive power applications such as electric vehicles and material handling equipment. These few examples demonstrate just some of the recent developments in the power industry relating to energy usage. The full list is much larger and should provide many new opportunities in 2013 and beyond. Happy New Year! IMS Research