Technical Article

Efficient Power Supplies Cut CO2 Emissions

June 20, 2022 by Steve Roberts

Worldwide electricity use is responsible for a quarter of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. However, by taking simple steps, companies and consumers can cut down the usage of electricity – especially coming from burning coal or gas – to save billions of dollars while reducing millions of tons of CO2 emissions.

These changes include replacing toxic fluorescent and inefficient incandescent light bulbs with LED lamps that use significantly less electricity, using energy-efficient appliances at home, going solar, and driving electric vehicles (EVs) to name a few.

Advanced power electronics and power supplies are a critical part of enabling these solutions – as efficient, high-performance power supplies drive these technologies forward while accelerating their adoption rate. All this translates into saving millions of kWh energy, in turn positively impacting consumer savings and the environment.


Image used courtesy of Bodo’s Power Systems


Advanced Technologies for a Greener Future

Take for example LEDs, which require highly efficient drivers to get the maximum output from these solid-state devices at low cost. Inefficient drivers defeat this purpose. RECOM has developed the best-in-class constant current source and constant voltage drivers that deliver the reliability and efficiency needed to help LED technology fulfill its promise and transform the lighting industry. RECOM AC/DC and DC/DC LED drivers have helped to save millions of kWh of electricity consumption worldwide, cutting tens of millions of tons of CO2 emissions.

Until recently, major manufacturers of AC/DC adapters and chargers for a variety of consumer devices were flaunting the high efficiency at full load, while minimizing the somewhat poor performance at low or no load. As a result, millions of AC/DC power supplies in standby mode are simply wasting power, consuming between 5%-10% of the device’s total electricity consumption. With the average home having upwards of 40 mains-powered devices today, these losses are staggering. In response to these issues, regulatory authorities have introduced standards for standby as well as full load losses.

The main energy efficiency regulations for external power supplies standby (no load) power consumption are Energy Star (≤ 0.30 W up to 10 W; ≤ 0.5 W up to 250W), China Energy Conservation Program (≤ 0.30 W up to 10 W; ≤ 0.5 W up to 250W), EU EcoDesign (Energy-related Products- ErP) ( ≤ 0.30 W for non-PFC; ≤ 0.5 W for PFC), and Australia Energy Efficiency( ≤ 0.5 W up to 180 W). Likewise, external battery charger power supplies have stricter limits (0.075 W up to 50 W, 0.15 W up to 250 W) as it is assumed that they will be left plugged for most of their time in standby mode.

AC/DC converters have to operate efficiently over the entire load range, including no-load conditions. Recognizing these industry challenges, RECOM has developed AC/DC power supplies with special focus on no-load and light-load efficiency.


Transitioning to Renewables

In the last decade or so, renewable resources, which include wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal and biomass, have made remarkable progress in capturing the global energy supply market. Today’s higher efficiency power electronics with high-power density alongside lower costs are key factors driving the adoption rate of renewables.


Renewable resources like solar, wind, and hydropower are making progress. Image used courtesy of Bodo’s Power Systems


In 2021, according to the IEA report, the share of renewables in the electricity generation mix was an all-time high of 30%. That means 70% of the global electricity today is still generated by GHG and carbon-producing fossil fuels.

Consequently, the further expansion and growth of renewables in the power generating world is more important than ever. Though prices for PV panels and wind turbines have fallen substantially in the last 10 years, high-performance cost-effective power supplies, both DC/AC inverters and DC/DC converters, are needed to accelerate this adoption. RECOM is at the forefront of this application, offering high-performance inverters and converters that can be easily integrated with smart grids and renewable energy sources at cost-effective prices.


Electrification of Transportation

Transportation is another sector playing a critical role in the reduction of CO2 emissions to meet the goals of the standards set by the International regulatory agencies. By replacing fossil fuel-based transport with electrically powered vehicles and other modes of transportation, we can significantly reduce CO2 emissions and dramatically improve the quality of our air. Understanding the direct link between e-mobility and reduction in emissions, the automotive and transportation OEMs are slowly phasing out ICE-powered vehicles and increasing the production of EVs. GM, for instance, is committed to putting every driver in an EV on a scale previously unseen and bringing the USA to an all-electric future.

Toward that goal, GM has announced an investment of US$2.2 billion. Likewise, Ford Motor Company has announced plans to bring EVs at scale to American customers with two new massive, environmentally and technologically advanced campuses in Tennessee and Kentucky that will produce the next generation of electric F-Series trucks and the batteries to power future electric Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Meanwhile, Tesla is looking for higher sales for its EVs as gas prices soar amidst the Ukraine crisis and Russian sanctions.

Similarly, in Europe and Japan, car OEMs are promising to phase out gas-powered vehicles and increase production of EVs. The worldwide drive towards e-mobility solutions continues at a rapid rate.


Electric vehicles are on the rise. Image used courtesy of Bodo’s Power Systems


To further accelerate the adoption of EVs around the world, the automotive and transportation industries are encouraging global and state-level regulatory bodies to deploy policies promoting the use of energy-efficient EVs. The sale of new fossil-fuel-burning vehicles will be banned in European countries from 2035.

In the U.S., for example, President Joe Biden’s administration has passed a $1.75 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes EV tax incentives up to USD $12,500 per vehicle to spur consumer demand for EVs and $7.5 billion for EV charging infrastructure network. Similar incentives are also underway in Europe, Japan, and China. Battery-powered EVs require automotive-qualified traction inverters and DC/DC converters that are efficient, compact, rugged and can operate over a wide temperature range. RECOM has readied such solutions that can be easily deployed in EV battery charging stations, drivetrains, and conditioning applications.


Buildings and Industrial Plants

Commercial, industrial and government buildings account for some 40% of global emissions, according to Forrester Consulting. Decarbonization has been rather slow in this sector but there is hope as sincere efforts are underway to optimize buildings with the latest technologies that can deliver substantial energy savings with a corresponding drop in CO2 emissions and 100% renewable electricity. To meet the emerging demands of smart building applications, RECOM extends its existing low-power RAC series with new household-certified AC/DC converters at lower cost.



The race to decarbonization is earnestly underway and there is light at the end of the tunnel. But the bottom line is that power electronics is the enabler for all these efforts.

Power electronics will continue to advance to further accelerate the adoption of LEDs and renewables worldwide, electrify all types of transportation, and make buildings, data centers and manufacturing plants around the world cleaner to meet the net-zero goal of 2050. And RECOM is ready to help with innovative power supplies made to power LEDs, renewables, e-mobility, smart buildings, data centers and manufacturing plants around the world.


This article originally appeared in Bodo’s Power Systems magazine.