As the world moves closer to its target of providing electricity to all, the next emerging concern is the quality of power that is supplied, and it is fast becoming the cardinal issue of our digital age.
A high-quality power has three aspects; steady voltage, smooth voltage waveform and steady A.C. frequency. Distortion in any of them leads to poor power quality, resulting in power losses. According to the world bank, the global electric power transmission and distribution losses since the 1990s have gyrated between 8-9%, lower for developed countries and much higher for developing countries, like India where losses are around 19%. A significant part of it is the power loss due to harmonics, the exact quantum varies with the industry and usage. There are studies that have found harmonic losses to be even over 50% of the total losses. In a world which has the dead albatross of global warming and climate change around its neck, power losses are looked at with unkind eyes.
Today the main power quality related issues are electrical harmonics, poor power factor, voltage instability and imbalances. These seemingly trivial issues result in far-reaching consequences including higher energy usage and costs, higher maintenance costs, equipment instability and failure. Many regulators impose a penalty on industries which have low power factor, as they consume more power than they need, indirectly creating the need for harmonic filters.
Harmonics are the distortions in Current and Voltage waveforms from their ideal sinusoidal shape, due to non-linear loads. Harmonics substantially increase the losses due to increased heating in the equipment and conductors, misfiring in variable speed drives and torque pulsations in motors.
As the world advances with the use of more sophisticated electrical and electronic equipment along with increasing pressure for energy efficiency, the global harmonic market is expected to grow impressively.
According to Stratview Research, after deep analysis of the market, stratum after stratum, estimates the market size of Harmonic Filters to grow to over US$ 1 billion by 2023, with an impressive CAGR of over 6% during the forecast period (2018 to 2023).
The technologically advanced and emission conscious North America & Europe account for three-fourths of the market, with the USA as the world leader.
ABB Ltd., Schneider Electric SA, and Eaton Corporation Plc are the major players capturing around a third of the total market.
There are a number of harmonic mitigation solutions available, most of them are of the passive type: doubling the neutrals, k-rated transformer, zigzag transformer, Phase shifting transformers, redistribute or relocate harmonic producing loads and use of tuned (or detuned) filters. Simply put, the options are of using a transformer or a filter (harmonic filter; active or passive).
Active Harmonic filters inject compensation current onto the system to cancel out a major portion of the Harmonic current. Active filters have high cost and are often used for smaller capacity applications, such as the medical industry, precision instruments, laboratories, communications, shopping malls and buildings.
Passive Harmonic filters, which have a dominant market share, are a series of filters which are a combination of input reactor, output reactor, shunt reactor, and capacitor. They are a low-cost solution and require different filters for every harmonic. These filters are often used for large capacity requirements in the industries, such as steel mills, wind power, electrified railways and urban rail transit industries, petrochemical & natural gas, steel and metallurgical, mining, and shipbuilding.
The active filter is likely to be the faster-growing filter type. The growth comes from bigger applications like in the Middle East which has a significant share of active harmonic filters, the oil & gas industry is a major user in the region.
The end-user industries of harmonic filters are manufacturing, metal processing, data & IT centers, paper & pulp, oil & gas, written in the decreasing order of dominance in the market.
The most dominant manufacturing segment with a little less than two-thirds of the market share, includes cement industries, pharmaceutical, power plants, steel industries, foundries, and chemical industries.
Since harmonic filters are devices that reduce power consumption (or reduce emissions) and prolong equipment life, their growth in principal is driven by these factors.
Unprecedented technological progress and proliferated use of electronics, the internet, computing has led to the mushrooming of Data and IT centers. They are improving their power factor by using harmonic filters, thus saving power cost and reducing emission while they are also driving the demand for harmonic filters.
Harmonic filters are gaining importance in performing the role in safeguarding the electronics and enhancing the power quality. Harmonics reduce the life of equipment on account of hysteresis, eddy currents and increased heating of the motor core. The growing concern towards the reduction of such potential damages is driving harmonic filters demand.
The rapid adaptation of electric arc furnace technology in the metal processing industry shall give a boost to the harmonic filter market as it uses a harmonic filter. The pace of adaptation is visible in the graph below.
The elephantine rise in personal computers, multimedia devices, digital communications and industrial automated processes are now causing harmonic issues at a rapidly growing rate.
Renewable sources of energy like Photovoltaic, wind, natural gas sources which were once considered innocuous harmonic producers are proving to be the contrary. They will give a great thrust to growth in harmonic filters.
The price of the harmonic filters is higher than any of its alternatives and is one of the major drawbacks acting as a barrier for its large-scale acceptance in various end-use industries. But as the pressure for enhancing energy efficiency is mounting, the acceptance of harmonic filters is poised to increase.
The global economic expansion along with increasingly stringent emission norms are expected to drive the growth of harmonic filters in the near future.
Firms are trying to develop low-cost harmonic filters, advance the filter designs to foster simplicity and increase the use of Advanced Electronic Components in Harmonic Filter.
So long as the harmonic filters undergo technological advancements with simultaneous cost reduction, their growth should continue unencumbered.