Alternative energy systems and the semiconductors used in them could grow at an annual rate of as much as 40 percent over the next several years, according to a new market research report. Solar, wind and fuel cell systems consumed an estimated $800 million in semiconductors in 2008, a figure that could rise to nearly $2 billion by 2012, according to the report from The Information Network (New Tripoli, Penn.). The chips involved are primarily MOSFETs, IGBTs, microcontrollers, DSPs and discretes used to convert the renewable energy from AC to DC power. Some of the anticipated growth will come as the result of the recently passed economic stimulus package that calls for spending about $43 billion on alternative energy including about $4.3 billion on smart electric grids.
Smart meters, which measure and automatically communicate detailed electrical (or gas or water) usage information to the utility and, in some cases, enable greater consumer awareness and control over consumption, are being deployed at an increasing pace, especially in North America and Europe. The current trends in AMI markets represent a continuation of the growth rates charted by ABI Research over recent years. "We don't think that the economic crisis is having a significant effect," says Lucero. "Utilities' smart metering deployments are typically multi-year plans developed in the context of regulated market environments, and not terribly susceptible to short-term economic fluctuations."
This $4 million wind turbine project can be found at Jiminy Peak, in Hancock, Massachusetts. The turbine is nicknamed Zephyr, after the Greek god of the west wind. And Zephyr isn't afraid to make its presence known. The tower is more than 250 feet tall. The hub adds 10 feet, and the blades extend an additional 123 feet, creating a 386-foot green machine. Zephyr works its magic to produce about a third of Jiminy Peak's electric needs, shaving $450,000 a year from the resort's energy bill. To put that in perspective, the energy from the turbine is enough to power more than 600 homes. And Zephyr's power doesn't stop there. It has also drawn the interest of many visitors.
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