Although the pandemic impacted various ways, it accelerated new technology learning and innovation. As a result, there will be more power supplies and innovations for designing power solutions.
FREMONT, CA: The pandemic has immensely affected power electronics, although there is a boost in new technologies and opportunities for power designers to capitalise on the e-learning benefits. It is important to ponder and consider the aspects contributing to making power supplies more efficient, reliable, and exciting to design.
Electrification and the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy are significant trends today. This segment will need a lot of technological innovations to reach the expected carbon-neutral level.
Refocusing on what most power supply companies develop, there will be four major trends and one technology development influencing the power industry. This includes reducing energy consumption, having power supplies become part of the machine-to-machine ecosystem, enhancing energy storage solutions, and accelerating the harvesting of energy solutions. These trends will benefit from the wide band-gap semiconductor implementation.
From harvesting energy to supplying it to the grid, the power electronics industry is permanently seeking new ways to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption. International and local regulations have forced power supply manufacturers to innovate, but there will be more stringent regulations requiring the power industry to explore new topologies, components, and materials.
E-commerce was already growing before the pandemic, but it has grown exponentially due to curfew restrictions, working at home, and the reduction in physical interaction. This resulted in high demand for shipping hubs, computerised storage, and the overall supply chain. Shipping hubs and warehouses have become large and consume lots of energy. Building handling and shipping hubs that are more energy-efficient have been significant for all major players.
Power supplies do not consume most of the energy, but when considering their strategic position in the operational chain, they become a key point in the entire process of optimising how energy is used in the complete chain. More advanced power supplies will be used in e-commerce handling and shipping hubs in the coming years.
They will integrate higher levels of communication and store and restore energy for supercapacitor banks, reducing peak disturbances on the grid and consumption. The power supplies have been integrated into a complete ecosystem with machine-to-machine communication. They deliver power to a load and sense and adjust the energy level to store it in local supercapacitor banks.
Micro-systems powered by harvested energy are developing very quickly, from the RFID inserted in the shipping box that will get power from RF signals to sensors deployed on motors or moving elements powered by vibration. Nanotechnology, like nanotubes, helps to develop very small supercapacitors storing enough energy to power sensors and transmitters.
This is possible only through the implementation of digital power and communication. However, the performance level requires power electronics engineers to design new power solutions with wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors. GaN and SiC types are selected according to the application and voltage. The WBG will contribute to making e-commerce more energy efficient and to lowering CO2 footprint.