Power Grid Fuels Growth

Reported by Cliff Keys, Editor-in-Chief, Power Systems Design



The power grid, which most of us take for granted, keeps us connected, ultimately to the points of power generation. This vital and complex arterial network in many cases is now well past its best' and in need of urgent refurbishment or renewal. With governments and regional authorities in Europe pledging to upgrade and revitalize power grid systems in the name of energy efficiency, the environment and cost reduction - and because it is a way of attracting votes - there should be an adequate level of real funding for our power industry to engineer the refurbishment. The aptly named Smart Grid is really the merger of two networks: the electrical transmission and distribution network, and the modern data communications network. While communications are not new to the electrical grid, the integration of renewable power generation, electric vehicles, and even consumers themselves into the grid requires the creation of an automated, distributed, and secure control system of tremendous scale, with reliable, flexible, and cost-effective networking as the fundamental enabling technology. The vertically-integrated Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) system silos of today are yielding to horizontally-layered communications architectures for substation automation, distribution automation, advanced metering, and home area networking applications. The smart grid will use a broad mix of public and private, wired and wireless, licensed and unlicensed, and standard and proprietary communications technologies. The Pike Research report covers these areas in detail. The power management semiconductor industry fueled by gains in the commercial and industrial sectors, will finish 2010 on a high note that will be unmatched over the next few years, according to iSuppli Corp. Comprising integrated circuits and discretes, power management semiconductors will generate $31.4 billion in 2010, up nearly 40% from $22.4 billion in 2009. This year's expansion not only will reverse the losses of 2009—when revenue declined by 15.8%—it also will be unequaled during the next four years, where yearly growth is forecast no higher than 13%. Over the next five years, a good part of growth in power management semiconductors will come from the vibrant alternative energy market, which will bring inverters to the attention of many suppliers. The need for inverters - devices that convert direct current to alternating current - will stem from applications in the automotive, solar and wind turbine markets. Revenue is expected to more than double by 2014, reaching $7.2 billion, compared to $2.9 billion in 2009. Among the types of power management semiconductors, the fastest growth will take place among power MOSFETs, where revenue will increase at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of over 20% from 2009 to 2014. I hope you enjoy this issue, please keep the very helpful and interesting feedback coming in and do check out our poignant fun-strip, Dilbert, at the back of the magazine.

All the best, Cliff Keys Editor-in-Chief Power Systems Design Cliff.Keys@powersystemsdesign.com