Energy harvesting (EH) has tremendous market potential as it is a key enabling technology for low-power, maintenance-free electronic devices. In the low-power application space, EH technologies based on solar, thermal and mechanical energies will prove most promising. Since the elimination of batteries is the primary benefit of EH, these technologies are an inclusive part of the trend towards greater energy efficiency. Application sectors that will benefit from EH include automotive, utility, industrial, military, and aerospace, building automation, environment and healthcare.

Recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Energy Harvesting Innovations Disrupting Key Applications, finds that sustainability, the ability to remain productive, and function actively for a long time, will boost the adoption of EH technologies across multiple industries. Furthermore, better quality EH systems with improvised power density will enhance revenues from product lines.

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As the power density of micro EH technology is currently not very high, it is used to enhance battery life rather than as the sole power source. While technological advances have made it possible to harvest various ambient energy sources, end-users still cannot support high-power-consuming devices with EH technologies.

“With the rising application scope of EH technologies, new types of EH devices with advanced functionalities will emerge,” noted Frost & Sullivan TechVision Research Analyst Sitanshu Shastri. “Moreover, research work in several areas such as the nano-scale manipulation of devices and nano-material will open the door for higher efficiency in EH.”

Countries will quickly implement regulatory and fiscal policies to ensure the wide-scale integration of effective EH technologies, which will help minimize carbon emissions and maximize energy efficiency. Integration activities and the increased accessibility of high-end products will facilitate the growth of intelligent, green EH technologies.

However, the high initial cost of EH technology will be a major obstacle to adoption. Though EH solutions offer a robust ROI in the range of five to eight years, it is often difficult for end users to understand and calculate this figure. Thus, end users end up making a superficial comparison of EH solutions with cheaper batteries.

It will take some time for EH technologies to achieve widespread adoption as the battery market is quite established and education is required to change the end-user mindset. Further, EH power systems need to store energy, as sources of energy are not always available. For instance, solar power is unavailable at night and there is no vibration when a motor is at rest.

“Despite these challenges, several products have been commercialized and off-the-shelf EH devices are already available,” said Shastri. “These new devices will gain traction with the decreasing cost of energy storage techniques for EH such as thin film batteries and super capacitors.”

Energy Harvesting Innovations Disrupting Key Applications, a part of the TechVision  subscription, provides an overview of key innovations in EH and identifies promising technologies such as thermoelectric and piezoelectric, along with its benefits and challenges. It also offers insights on funding and patent trends as well as the implications of innovations and future applications.

Frost & Sullivan’s global TechVision practice is focused on innovation, disruption and convergence that provides a variety of technology based alerts, newsletters and research services as well as growth consulting services. Its premier offering, the TechVision program, identifies and evaluates the most valuable emerging and disruptive technologies enabling products with near-term potential. A unique feature of the TechVision program is an annual selection of 50 technologies that can generate convergence scenarios, possibly disrupt the innovation landscape, and drive transformational growth.

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