Uninterruptible Power Supply To Play Larger Role In Smart Grid

07 Feb 2012

The global market for uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems will expand from $8.2 billion in 2011 to $9.4 billion this year, which represents a year-over-year growth rate of 14%, according to a report from Pike Research. By 2015, the UPS market will grow to $13.2 billion.

"UPS systems are already an important energy-storage feature in cost-efficient and smart buildings," says Bob Gohn, vice president of research at Pike Research. "The emergence of hybrid topologies that automatically switch between different power modes can reduce energy costs over time without compromising power quality."

UPS devices combine a built-in energy-storage source - such as a battery, flywheel or other device - to supply an electrical load with clean and sufficient power during a grid power outage or other events that affect power quality.

Some newer, next-generation UPS devices add advanced features to enable them to play a larger role in smart energy infrastructure. These UPS systems and their underlying technology are becoming more important to the smart energy ecosystem in areas such as green infrastructure technology (IT), smart buildings, battery technology, and distributed energy and smart meters, according to Pike Research.

Next-generation UPS systems will combine several key features, including a built-in energy-storage source - such as batteries, flywheels or compressed air - and circuitry to supply clean and sufficient power over periods lasting from a few seconds to several hours. Most leading UPS systems also have some form of surge protection or power filtering circuitry.

Traditionally, most of these systems were point solutions designed to protect an individual PC, server, medical device, airport or factory. However, new technologies and architectures are emerging that can more effectively integrate UPS systems into the larger power infrastructure and take advantage of the large amount of energy storage already installed worldwide.  

Growth drivers

As green IT becomes an important goal for many vendors and users, UPS systems that can fit into and augment existing IT infrastructures to support the vendors' overall green IT objectives will be in increasing demand, according to Pike Research.

Annual unit growth is expected to be slightly higher than revenue growth in 2011, driven by a small average sales value decline, especially in the small UPS segment. The small global UPS segment continued to generate the most revenue during the first half of 2011, but it lost share to the fast-growing large UPS segment.

Asia remained the strongest region in the first half of 2011. The region is expected to gain over 2% share due to fast expansion in China and other emerging economies in Asia and Latin America. Annual revenue growth in North America and Europe will be over 10% in 2011.

Key growth drivers for the global UPS market include continued sensitivity of many electronic devices to grid power-quality issues, decreased acceptance of downtime, and over-proportional growth in Asia and other emerging economies with notoriously unreliable grid power.

A handful of well-financed global manufacturers will increase their lead in almost all major markets and are ready to make strategic acquisitions to hold or strengthen their position in key market segments and regions, according to Pike Research.

Some focused niche players, particularly in the high end of the market, continue to do well, and large international conglomerates with strong brands can hold their market position if the required resources are available, according to the report.

Chinese UPS manufacturers continue to do well, because original equipment manufactures or original design manufacturers are increasingly focusing on branded products in their domestic and neighboring markets.

Key technology needs for the UPS industry include an even stronger focus on efficiency, more emphasis on transformer-less designs and advances in battery technology. Rotary flywheel-based systems remain popular at the high end, but this ancient simple design is also getting a second look in the mid range, with new, more compact designs.



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