DC-DC, Digital Power, AC-DC Power and Wireless Power in 2015

January 08, 2015 by Power Pulse1595211359

Darnell Group, Inc. offers a comprehensive series of market analysis reports covering digital power, dc-dc converters, ac-dc power supplies, wireless power and related components and applications. The following discussion will focus on several areas that are expected to present significant opportunities in 2015 and beyond.

DC-DC Converters

One of the more clearly defined trends in the dc-dc converter market is the continued dominance of the 48V segment. Although the use of 12V power buses has increased substantially, the 48V segment will maintain the largest unit and dollar market over the forecast period. An area to watch in 2015 will be the adoption of advanced semiconductor materials such as Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN). The use of these materials will relate to the dominance of 48Vdc power conversion and the drive toward increasing energy efficiency.

Considerable focus in the power industry is on the emergence of these two materials, both of which are expected to have an impact on the dc-dc power supply markets. In 2015 SiC is expected to be the primary replacement technology for traditional silicon power devices, while GaN seeks initial commercial traction in applications with breakdown voltages of less than 600V and power requirements of less than 5kW.

Another of the driving forces in the dc-dc conversion market is the emergence of digital power management and control. No longer considered an “emerging” technology, it has entered the mainstream and is now widely considered to be a commercial product and is now used in a growing number of applications. In fact, in one of the more interesting findings in this report, the unit market for dc-dc converter modules with digital capability is projected to grow three and a half times as fast as the overall dc-dc converter module unit market.

Digital Power

In fact, the overall digital market will experience substantial growth over the next several years as users demand more advanced features and functions in their products. This growth was led by a surge in 2014 and settle down into a pattern of rapid growth for the next five years. Driven by growth across a number of sectors including communications, computers, solid-state lighting and a growing smart grid and energy management sector, the combined external ac-dc, embedded ac-dc and dc-dc converter modules markets will reach nearly $10 billion dollars in 2019.

Based on these trends, Darnell Group has identified the current “best” markets for digital power. Some have emerged from the slow-but-inevitable march toward a “Smart Grid”; others come from standards and the demand for increased energy efficiency.

The further adoption of digital power technology to smart grid and other energy measurement and power management applications presents a host of opportunities. In fact, these applications face implementation challenges that are both business- and technology-related. For example, digital control of power allows reductions of power consumption of the installed equipment base and, at the same time, offers telemetry and the ability to monitor, control and alert to tampering and energy theft, and respond to tampering in various ways. As a result, robust telemetry, monitoring and anti-tampering capabilities, along with securing the grid, are all critical.

The adoption of digital power technology will play an especially important role in the dc-dc converter module market, with applications ranging from information and communications technology (ICT) to portable applications and electronic devices. Although the dc-dc converter module segment will maintain a smaller unit market than either the embedded ac-dc or external ac-dc market, it will record the highest degree of digital penetration among its applications.

Embedded AC-DC Power

The communications power supply segment is expected to have the largest dollar market share of the $20 billion embedded ac-dc power supply market in 2015. However, the segment will see a slight decline in dollar market share due to the faster growing industrial and solid state lighting segments.

Solid state lighting (SSL) is projected to have both the fastest growing unit and dollar markets in this report and it is expected to be one of the stronger areas of opportunity for the embedded power supply market. In fact, efficient general purpose lighting is projected to provide one of the more immediate opportunities over the next several years.

Power supplies for smart grid applications which include smart meters, electric vehicle charges and smart appliances are projected to make up the fastest growing unit market. The largest area of concentration is expected to be in the area of consumer energy consumption, specifically the smart meter market. Although the smart grid segment is currently captive, a number of factors are expected to come into play that should provide opportunities for merchant power supply manufacturers.

In one of the more interesting findings, the three emerging application segments – Smart Grid, Solid State Lighting (SSL) and Building Automation are projected to continue growing over three times as fast as the traditional applications, which include the communications, computers, industrial, medical, mil/aero and consumer sectors.

External AC-DC and Wireless Power

Finally, led by a number of traditional applications within the communications, computers and consumer segments as well as a number of emerging ones, the outlook for the external ac-dc power supply market is expected to remain strong. The commercial emergence of wireless power transfer will be one of the key developments in 2015.

Wireless power isn’t about just reducing the number of external ac-dc power supplies in the world it’s about increasing the capability of wirelessly powered devices in everything from cellphones and tablets to automobiles. The elimination of the need to maintain multiple external power supplies, one for each electronic device, has long been a goal for both the consumers and manufacturers of consumer electronics equipment and over the past several years there have been a number of developments moving the industry towards this goal

However, most wireless chargers require the use of an external power adapter and therefore provide an opportunity to the power supply manufactures. So although wireless charging systems will present a serious long-term threat to the external power supply market, it will also present a near term opportunity.

In fact, starting sometime in 2016, wireless chargers were found to be a break-out technology over the forecast period and are expected to present a significant opportunity for external power supplies. They are projected to record both the fastest growing unit and dollar markets in this edition. Demand for wireless chargers will be driven by the large mobile phone market and to a lesser extent the tablet market. In addition, the adoption of a specific standard for wireless charging, especially one associated with or sponsored by the IEEE will spike demand, driving it further than current projected forecasts.