The market for direct current distribution networks will grow from $2.5 billion in annual revenue in 2013 to $24.1 billion by 2025, according to analysis by Navigant Research.
The Direct Current Distribution Networks report examines DC data center microgrids, off-grid green telecom/village power systems, DC subsystems within grid-tied commercial buildings and off-grid military networks—four distinct and disparate segments within the greater market.
The report also seeks to debunk a number of myths surrounding the advantages and disadvantages of direct current, or DC, including the assumption that energy efficiency gains made by switching from alternating current are too small to be beneficial. Research by a variety of entities including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that medium voltage (380V DC) is 7 percent to 8 percent more efficient than AC, according to the report.
Other myths include that AC is safer because the voltage crosses zero at either 50 or 60 times per second. The report notes this is only true if the current is not leading or lagging. New technologies, such as magnetic arc breakers and switched interlocks can address safety concerns surrounding DC at a relatively modest cost, the report says.
The most robust markets for these systems today are in the developing world, according to the report, the first-such analysis Navigant Research has conducted on the DC market. There is particularly high demand for low-voltage telecommunications towers and associated village power offerings in Asia Pacific region and Africa.
The Asia Pacific region is the clear market leader in DC distribution networks today with about 116 MW of annual online capacity. More than 98 percent of this in the telecom/village anchor market segment, the report says.
A growing number of technology vendors is targeting this space, including ABB, Emerson Network Power, Johnson Controls, Intel as well as a cadre of smaller specialists, according to the report.