As countries turn to modernizing existing power generation plants, increasing reliance on renewable resources for power generation and the expansion of smart grids to meet efficiency targets and soaring energy demands, the power industry is emerging as a fertile market for new sensor technologies and intelligent sensor products. The Internet of Things (IoT) is fueling sensor use in smart grids to receive and send real-time inputs on various parameters such as power leakages, tampering and third-party interferences. Sensor manufacturers are slowly realizing the massive revenue potential of their products in these niche applications.
Opportunity Analysis of Sensors in Power Generation and Smart Grids, a recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan's Sensors & Instrumentation Growth Partnership Subscription, finds that the sensors market in power generation will nearly double from $3.82 billion in 2016 to reach $7.37 billion in 2022.
By 2022, Asia-Pacific will be one of the biggest markets for sensors in the power industry as many countries such as India embrace smart grids. Similarly, clean energy initiatives in North America are also taking off in a big way, with $4.3 billion earmarked for smart grid infrastructure development. These modernization and upgrade programs are drawing huge investments to the sensors market.
"Power plants are being modernized for a second layer of automation through the use of sensors," said Frost & Sullivan Measurement & Instrumentation Research Analyst Dr. Rajender Thusu. "This improves energy efficiency, reduces risks, and optimizes the entire plant's operation. There has also been greater traction for wireless, non-intrusive sensors because of their ease of deployment."
To achieve their potential, smart grids need to address high capital costs; existing legacy systems; integration of various hardware systems at the substation, distribution and consumption levels, as well as the integration of various regional grids with the national grids; and interoperability and uniformity of grid architecture. Sensors can alleviate many of the pain points by making the transmission grid smarter. Incorporating sensors at every level can ensure quick and two-way power flow, power balance in the grid, superior line ratings and, ultimately, increased earnings.
Furthermore, sensors improve turbine efficiency, facilitate both machine and environmental safety, restrict power losses in transmission, and aid the equitable distribution of power at affordable prices. Continuous research has led to the development of combined sensors for different applications in power plants, based on diverse generation sources.
"Sensors are gradually becoming predictive in nature, which is likely to ensure accident-free and clean power-generating plants," noted Thusu. "It is crucial that sensor vendors tap into the growing opportunities by focusing on expanding their product portfolio and advancing their products' technical capabilities to stay competitive."
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