Energy harvesting market outlook

Friday, 12 June, 2009

At the recent IDTechEx Energy Harvesting & Storage conference in the UK, the scope for energy harvesting as a sustainable energy resource was addressed, along with a range of complementary technologies for energy storage for later use.

Energy harvesting, in terms of number of organisations involved, is driven mainly within Europe and North America, but large budgets are appointed to energy harvesting in a number of large organisations in east Asia and around the globe.

The market for energy harvesters in 2009 was reported as being US$611 million, with 67% of it being applications for consumer goods. By 2019, the market is predicted to have grown to over $4 billion, with 75% of it being consumer goods harvesters. The rest of the market will be industrial, military or healthcare applications.

Two notable presentations were made by an architect and design firm Facility: Innovate and its sister R&D arm, The Innovation Factory, both of which are trying to lead sustainable projects and reduce energy bills by up to two thirds. The companies suggest that addressing energy costs (which have been hugely affected by increasingly higher costs of fossil fuels) can be pushed forward, not only by enabling new, sustainable, technologies, but also by affecting consumption of energy in houses, offices and other buildings.

Energy harvesting devices and sensors can lead to better energy efficiency and are promoted by The Innovation Factory. The company has a patent to prototype floor vibration harvesting and is also researching building or transport vibration as other means to power electric devices.

During the 2012 Olympics, an energy harvesting staircase at one of the three main transport gateways which will be accommodating an estimated 22,000 passersby each day will be used to power the lighting and displays along its 400 m length. The power generated is claimed to be adequate to run the electrics for this area throughout the entire duration of the Olympics.

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