Powering M2M devices provides growth for energy harvesting

In its latest study “Energy Harvesting for M2M Devices,” ABI Research has determined that the market for energy harvesting systems totalled US$3.82m in 2009, and that it will reach $418m by 2016.

If energy harvesting development kits are included, the 2009 market exceeded $12.7m, and will reach approximately $480m by 2016.

Energy harvesting is the capture of ambient energy, its conversion into a usable form and its storage for immediate or future use. The types of ambient power that can be harvested include light, heat, motion, vibration and RF. Examples of energy harvesting that have been around for decades include solar-powered calculators, wristwatches powered by body motion and bicycle lights powered by a generator or dynamo run by friction with the wheel.

Over the past decade, interest in energy harvesting has increased because of its environmental friendliness and its ability to power devices without electric wires, extending the life of batteries (or eliminating them entirely) and decreasing maintenance.

“Because ambient power is scavenged in milliwatts or even microwatts, energy harvesting is best used for small, wireless, autonomous devices that can function on an ultra-low-power basis,” said Larry Fisher, research director of Nextgen, ABI Research’s emerging technologies research incubator. “This makes it clearly applicable to wireless sensor networks, which are the next step in the evolution of automating buildings, utilities, factories, homes and transportation systems.”

Wireless sensors can be spread throughout a home or building, in factories or on bridges or other structures to monitor environmental or other conditions; if they’re powered by energy harvesting, there are no batteries to replace and no labour costs associated with replacing them.

“The market for energy harvesting is still in the very early stages of development, while R&D and prototyping of systems continue to prove their reliability and economic value compared to battery-powered systems,” said Fisher.

“Energy Harvesting for M2M Devices” covers the market for energy harvesting for M2M devices and provides forecasts of energy harvesting unit shipments and revenue, segmented by major global region and by ambient energy source, along with shipment and revenue data related to the proliferation of energy harvesting development kits.

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