So-called "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. Interest in energy harvesting is increasing 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.
ABI Research has determined that the market for energy harvesting systems will reach $418m by 2016. If energy harvesting development kits are included, the 2009 market exceeded $12.7m, and will reach approach $480m by 2016. 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. 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.
How is each type of energy harvested most efficiently? What types of electronics can be powered more efficiently and cost-effectively through ambient energy harvesting? Which companies are marketing energy harvesting solutions?
An ABI Research report, "Energy Harvesting for M2M Devices", 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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