Thomas Edison said that electricity should be made where it is to be used. We are a long way from replacing power stations and ugly pylons but at the small end – harvesting ambient energy to power electrical and electronic devices so they are self-sufficient – things are very much on the move. We are in transition from familiar bicycle dynamo and solar cells on calculators, satellites and so on. Next comes eliminating the need for surgery in order to change batteries in a pacemaker and providing the laptop and mobile phone that never has a flat battery. Within the decade, that will be followed by energy harvesting in e-labels, e-packaging and e-posters and promotions and very widespread use in consumer and industrial products such as watches, sensors and engines.
These and similar devices are being designed to use much less electricity. Better interfacing electronics are arriving and better, more affordable energy harvesting is often printed. Many start-ups are addressing the wide variety of needs including capturing thermal, light, movement and other ambient energy. The chip companies are involved as are those making the rechargeable batteries and supercapacitors sometimes needed with the harvesting elements. The huge potential market for wireless sensor networks and environmental building control will be opened up with maintenance-free energy harvesting that lasts decades and has no wiring. There is therefore a need to move from the science to an assessment of needs, market and profit potential, role models of success and technical trends. This is because a wide variety of potential users wish to place orders, governments wish to support this vibrant new industry and investors wish to invest.
To address this next phase, IDTechEx is staging the conference Energy Harvesting and Storage in Cambridge, UK on 3rd – 4th June. It will be addressed by major users and potential users such as oil majors, the French Atomic Energy Commission, Lighting for Africa and the US Army. The technical leaders and analysts IDTechEx will give overviews and forecasts covering the many emerging technologies. There will be optional Masterclasses on the days before and after the conference, an exhibition and visits to local centres of excellence. You do not need to be a technical expert to attend this conference but there is much occupy the technical person as well. For more information, visit www.idtechex.com/eh.