Renewables and Revenues

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



The focus on renewables - and especially energy harvesting, has certainly hit the industry's headlines over the past year. Apart from being good for the environment and good for the power electronics industry, it is a sought after lever for governments and administrations to attract ‘clean votes'. With previous waves of engineering graduates trained in analog, logic and DSP technologies, maybe the next wave will be qualified as energy harvesting experts encompassing all of the above. It most likely hangs on the investment made now in education at this level, which probably depends heavily on the state of the economy and government priorities, to use a broad-brush term. Hopefully this relatively new industry will spawn the next wave of valuable and talented engineers who will take up and solve the real challenges facing our energy-hungry environment. After nearly two years of unimpressive performance, the recovery of the global market for Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) is picking up momentum. The industry on 3Q-2010 performed 12.9% higher than 3Q-2009, according to IMS Research. There were strong UPS sales in Asia and the Americas, while the debt crisis in Europe is still hampering its revival. China and India remain the engines of growth in Asia with a rapid uptake in shipments across all sectors. Without question, Asia is now a major focus of supplier attention. In the span of five years, Asia has grown its share of the global market from 25% to 33%. The market in Europe, Middle East and Africa has not improved to the degree of those in Asia and the Americas, where UPS revenues remain roughly the same as in 2009. The rapid recovery in automotive production and inventory rebuilding among sensor component suppliers has set the market for automotive MEMS sensors to expand to record size in 2010, according to iSuppli. Marking a new high-point for the industry, shipments of automotive MEMS sensors will reach 662.3 million units in 2010, up 32.1% from 501.2 million units in 2009. The recovery in automotive MEMS shipments represents a turnaround from the depressed levels of 2009 when shipments reached a nadir, and the years ahead will provide additional room for expansion. One significant source for automotive MEMS growth is the use of sensors in passenger cars supporting mandated safety technologies such as electronic stability control (ESC) and tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). The United States and Europe lead the adoption of legislation on such safety systems - with many other countries following suit. I hope you enjoy this issue with the ongoing improvements to the magazine and website design based on your valuable feedback. And please check out Dilbert at the back of the magazine. All the best, Cliff Editorial Director & Editor-in-Chief, Power Systems Design