The AC drives market is driven by many factors, such as urbanization, industrialization, and the ever-increasing demand for energy. Other factors that influence the market include – rising electricity prices and energy efficiency regulations. AC drives have the potential to reduce energy consumption, and offer greater return on investment and efficiency. These factors provide many opportunities for the up-gradation & retrofitting market. Moreover, saving a considerable amount of energy is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Growing Requirement for Energy Savings and Efficiency – Driving the Market
The demand for power has been on the rise, due to the burgeoning population and industrialization. Growing energy consumption exerts a huge strain on natural resources and increases the cost of producing electricity. Utilities and governments across the world encourage industries and households to reduce energy consumption, by adopting energy-saving techniques. AC drives offer the ideal solution to energy savings, by increasing the efficiency of the machines using AC power.
AC drives ensure 25%-70% energy savings for motor operation. Motors consume the most energy in any industry, and the AC drive lets the motor to run at the optimal speed and controls the motor speed.
An AC drive eliminates the need for expensive and bulky mechanical drive-control components, such as gearboxes, along with offering energy savings. AC drives enable the reduction of the starting current that is required by a motor. Motors connected via an AC drive, facilitate an increase in speed at a controlled rate and reduce damage to the motor (that can happen if it began across the line). An AC drive can also stop motors at a controlled rate. The reduction of starting current also leads to lower disturbances in the power supply, as it eliminates the voltage sag that occurs as a result of motor-start. This, in turn, protects other connected devices from voltage fluctuations.
Incorporating AC drives for motors, offers energy savings and reduces wear and tear on the mechanical components of the motors, in turn, reducing the frequency required for repairs and maintenance. This leads to higher benefits for operators, as plant downtime can be reduced drastically, along with savings on power bills. These factors encourage the industries to adopt AC drives, thus, boosting the AC drive market.
Asia-Pacific will Continue to Lead the AC Drives Market during the Forecast Period
The growth in the Asia-Pacific region can be mostly attributed to the capital investments being made in the infrastructure, oil & gas, and power generation sectors, and also investments made in energy efficiency solutions. Huge investments in energy intensive sectors and manufacturing, while simultaneously focusing on energy conservation and renewable sources of energy to curtail costs, are likely to drive the long-term growth of the market.
The leading countries contributing to the growth of AC drives in this region are China, Japan, India, and South Korea. With numerous suppliers targeting the marketplace, competition is intense among them. Suppliers, under pressure to differentiate their offerings and outperforming their competitors, are adopting various strategies, including establishing local manufacturing facilities, acquiring domestic companies, expanding the distributor network, and leveraging relationships with OEMs. Companies, like ABB Ltd, now have their local R&D centers focused on AC drive and two large-scale modern factories manufacturing and serving the demand, from Asia-Pacific, for AC drives.
China among the Fastest-growing Markets for AC Drives
China’s rapid industrialization and strong GDP growth go hand-in-hand with increased capital expenditure by global and domestic manufacturers, resulting in the expansion of the country’s manufacturing industry. This rapid development is accelerating the robust growth of the low-power AC drive market in China. The escalating industrial growth in China has increased the demand for electric power well beyond its production capacity, resulting in an acute shortage of power. This situation has forced the Chinese government to launch an energy conservation program, which recommends various energy saving measures. While the energy conservation requirement and cost savings are paramount factors contributing to the growth of the AC drive business, other key growth drivers include the concern for reliability, the growing machinery industry, and product-related issues, such as compactness, lower prices, user-friendly features, and new technologies.
Key Developments in the Market
May 2017: Yaskawa Electric Corporation developed the world’s first servo motor, with built-in amplifier that is equipped with GaN* power semiconductors, as the latest addition to its AC servo drives Σ (Sigma)-7 product series.
December 2017: ABB and SNC-Lavalin formed a joint venture to deliver electrical substation projects globally.
Major Players: ABB Ltd, Siemens AG, Yaskawa Electric Co., Danfoss Group , Mitsubishi Electrical Co. Ltd, Schneider Electric Co., Fuji Electric Co. Ltd, Hitachi Ltd, Rockwell Automation Inc., among others.