Green Energy Requires More than Windmills and Solar Panels

July 2, 2015

wind turbinesThe world is committed to moving to using “greener” energy, and in many countries you now can’t travel far without encountering windmills or solar panels that are feeding the electricity grid with electrical power from renewable sources. While they may be the most obvious signs of this trend, I’m struck by how many of our customer are using Vicor products to minimize the environmental impact of our use of power.

There are three markets that are great examples of what is happening. In data centers, engineers can design with our power components that allow them to move up to higher bus voltages, reducing the energy wasted in power distribution. Future server racks will be supplied with High Voltage DC (HVDC) or 3-phase AC, stepping down to 48 V, rather than the existing less efficient single phase AC to 12V power distribution architecture.  Our new front end power modules in VIA packaging technology offer significant density improvements over traditional silver box supplies with very high efficiency. At the load, Vicor’s factorized power architecture (FPA) transforms the 48V to load (processor and memory) voltages and ever-increasing load currents significantly reduced power losses. This approach also provides a very dense two-chip solution versus a typical multiphase (multi-chip) buck approach.

The hybrid and electric vehicle (HEV and EV) market is another interesting sector. Only a few years ago, consumers found it hard to conceive of powering their cars from a battery, and now this market is growing rapidly. We’ve seen countries around the world adopt initiatives in increase the use of EVs, and the efficiency and light weight of our power components is a key technology for several automotive manufacturers.

Smart Buildings are also part of the green energy trend. In the USA, for example, some supermarkets are capturing solar energy on their rooftops, distributing it at 380 VDC and converting to a bus voltage that is typically 24 V. This approach can provide significant gains in energy efficiency throughout the facility, and uses a range of our power components, including the same BCMs in VIA packaging technology that are used as the HVDC front end in data centers.

By offering innovative switching technologies, high-performance packaging and new ways to develop better power chains using the Power Component Design Methodology, we are part of the green energy revolution that you may not see. If the world is going to move to a lower carbon economy, however, we’ll need this technology: green energy is definitely much more than windmills and solar panels!

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One Response to:
Green Energy Requires More than Windmills and Solar Panels

  1. John Pagel on August 26, 2015 at 3:29 PM

    Green energy may be more than just solar panels, but we’re far, far away from capturing the true potential of sun power and we will be, for a very long time. There’s a lot more to come!

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