Technology Roadmapping for Energy Efficient Electronics
Power Electronics – Realising its Potential for Energy Efficiency
Today 40% of all energy consumption is in electrical energy, but this will grow to 60% by 2040. Much of this energy is wasted today by inefficient technologies. Power electronics is the key technology to control the flow of electrical energy from the source to the load precisely according to the requirements of the load. Power Electronics is a cross functional technology covering the extreme high Giga Watt (GW) power e.g. in energy transmission lines down to the very low milli Watt (mW) power needed to operate a mobile phone. It is responsible for the reliability and stability of the whole power supply infrastructure in Europe from the sources, the energy transmission and distribution up to the huge variety of applications in industry, transportation systems and the home & office appliances. But in spite of the tremendous importance of power electronics, there is a lack of awareness for the role of power electronics in the modern industrial society, even in the well informed general public.
Strategies for Power Electronics Research
The European research community in power electronics is of small but internationally competitive. This is why the community requires a streamlined strategy for mainstreaming R&D. The industry on the other hand is in need of orientation to plan long-term investments. RTD policy makers at the national and EU level require clear strategic options and recommendations based on facts and scenarios, but also including best-practices, and show-case results. This is why the E4U initiative aims at developing a strategic research agenda for power electronics – including research and policy aspects.
Energy efficiency is high on the agenda of European policy makers – at the EU and national level. If Europe wants to harvest the enormous potential of new technologies for energy efficiency, it must streamline and focus its research and technology development efforts. In its Communication on ICT for Energy Efficiency, the EC suggests to
- Foster research into novel ICT-based solutions and strengthen their take-up
- Strengthen efforts to reduce the energy needed by ICT itself
- Encourage structural changes to realize the full ICT potential for energy efficiency.
Power electronics will be key to realising this potential. Policies helping to boost power electronics for energy efficiency include research, standardisation, and education. The E4U initiative studied the EU and member states policies in this area.