Beyond the increasing presence of the automotive sector at traditional events like Electronica 2012, as we discussed earlier this week, the next sector forecasted to see increased semi opportunities is the smart grid, a topic that was delved into during the opening CEO panel (see Electronica's Daily Press article here and here).
As the CEO panel noted both during the roundtable discussion as well as during subsequent guest contributions you can read about in The Official Daily, smart solutions are the core of global energy efficiency programs and these programs directly rely on machine-to-machine connectivity, as noted by Freescale's President and CEO, Greg Lowe (15 Nov. 2012, Day 3, p. 4). But these transitions to smarter energy solutions, from generation to distribution and use, will not prove to be smooth and easy pathways, commented STMicroelectronics' President and CEO, Carlo Bozotti (15 Nov. 2012, Day 3, p. 4). The reasons come back to the similar issues that face the semiconductor and electronics industry for every product class, standards – and for smart grid interconnects, the backward and forward integration issues are significant, as Bozotti underscored.
While the evolution of regulations, standards, and products continues for smart energy solutions and implementations, the discussions around climate change impact and energy efficiency are on the increase, with Hurricane Sandy's devastation along the US Eastern seaboard providing a focusing event. Smart tech and smart energy (from smart grid to smart meters, smart homes, and all interconnects in between) is no longer an interesting thought and localized experiment, rather, it is an essential global energy plan for the future and importantly, a very strong growth opportunity for the semiconductor and electronics industry.
The commitment of major OEMs to smart grid and smart energy technology solutions was clear at Electronica 2012. The transition is underway based on experiences and orientations seen and heard at this global event, the fact that Germany is the stage is not lost on anyone familiar with smart energy solutions, having been a European front-runner in renewable energy and transitions to smart grid technologies. The rest of the world is not far behind though, and the leap-frogging in adopting technology solutions, this time surrounding smart energy, by emerging market countries is also anticipated.
Considering these forecasts, and the focus seen on smart energy technology from utility-scale to consumer solutions during Electronica 2012, the opportunities for a next wave of semi growth from this still growing sector are very positive and strong.