Power System Requirements for Energy Efficiency

Today a significant amount of energy is wasted in power conversions, as we consume it. The conversion of power from one voltage to another has inherent efficiencies of conversion resulting in wasted energy. The higher the efficiency, the less wasted power. Significant energy savings can be achieved by not only having high efficiencies at full loads, but also by maintaining high efficiencies at light loads with low standby power and ON/OFF power controls via remote networked managed systems.

Today power supplies consists of discrete PWM controllers and regulator, creating a “bag of chips” for a multi-rail power supply as seen below, with multiple conversion stages and varying efficiencies.

Figure 1: Typical Multi-rail Power Sub-system


These discrete solutions are extremely difficult to manage and control in order to achieve next generation energy conservation solutions. As we can see from the design, there is no end-to-end cohesive System Energy Management solution. The reason is quite obvious, each power controller has to be independently controlled across an isolation boundary and synchronizing and sequencing these controls can become extremely challenging and costly.

Power supplies need to respond to changes in the environment e.g. light, occupancy, time of day usage cost of electricity etc. They need to be able to connect to low cost sensors like ALS (Ambient Light Sensors) or Proximity Detectors and provide autonomous control thus achieving huge energy savings. Some examples are lighting controls for adjusting power supplies usage for daylight harvesting, or the use of washers and dryers during peak hours through Demand Response. Power need to be networked to be able to enable remote control and management, for example home/office temperature or lighting control via computers, smart phones like iPhones, Blackberry’s etc.

It’s time for the next generation Smart Power Supplies for Autonomous Energy Conservation – what do you think?