Fraunhofer: The Time for Power & Energy Measurement is NOW

June 12, 2012 by Jeff Shepard

Market developments are driving demand for power and energy management across a growing variety of applications. It began with the emerging smart grid and is now proliferating across numerous sectors. For example, starting next year tax rebates for reduced energy consumption in Germany will only be available to companies equipped with an energy management system that provides detailed reports of power consumption. According to a statement from the Fraunhofer Institute, "This won’t be an easy task for the companies concerned, because it means they will have to install individual auxiliary meters to monitor the power consumption of individual loads such as presses and welding machines, or bakers’ ovens, or electric motors."

Darnell Group’ first-edition report, "Power and Energy Measurement: Worldwide Forecasts" provides power management IC and power converter makers with a roadmap for growth and value-added opportunities. Measuring real-time energy consumption, and adjusting power delivery at critical loads (as opposed to simple "on-off" functions), are becoming increasingly important in today’s commercial, residential and industrial environments. The ability to "fine-tune" energy usage requires sophisticated power monitoring and measurement techniques. Information can be found here.

Darnell’s groundbreaking analysis has identified four markets that will benefit from advanced power and energy measurement functions: Embedded AC-DC Power Supplies, Power Distribution Units; Motor Drives; and Telecom Rectifiers. Embedded AC-DC power supplies are a strong unit market with healthy sales between 2012 and 2017 with annual growth rates above 30%/year. But all of these products have been targeted by companies making ICs for advanced power measurement functions; and they are all likely to be good markets, both in terms of market share and growth rates.

Digital power management is part of almost all energy management solutions, since "intelligent" data communication is an essential feature of these systems. Accuracy of data acquisition and power measurement is challenging from a number of perspectives, and its importance (and how precise it needs to be) determines, in part, the market penetration rates used to derive a forecast.

At the front end, digital controllers are being designed with an integrated power factor correction function to provide more accurate input power metering. At a broad level, so-called "energy management systems" are being implemented in a variety of facilities, but not all of these systems are "critical" or complex enough to require dynamic power measurement and control.

Advanced power and energy measurement is already providing opportunities for certain functions in certain power supplies in certain applications. For example, "Zero net energy" and "demandresponse" smart meters are among the emerging applications that are driving the need for accurate power and energy measurement. This report highlights where these functions, power supplies and applications converge, and when they are likely to offer the greatest commercial prospects.

Darnell Group’s first-edition report, "Power and Energy Measurement: Worldwide Forecasts" is available here.

More news and information regarding the latest developments in Smart Grid electronics can be found at Darnell’s SmartGridElectronics.Net.