The market for direct current (DC) distribution networks is not a single, cohesive sector. Rather, it consists of several disparate opportunities, including data centers, mobile telecommunications towers, DC subsystems within grid-tied commercial buildings, and off-grid military networks, that revolve around different market assumptions, dynamics and drivers. A growing list of technology vendors is targeting this space, among them ABB, Johnson Controls, Intel, and a cadre of smaller specialists. According to a recent report from Navigant Research, the worldwide market for DC distribution networks will grow from $2.5 billion in annual revenue in 2013 to $24.1 billion in 2025.
“The most successful segment for DC distribution networks is low-voltage (24V and 48V) systems for telecom towers,” says Peter Asmus, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “Increasingly, those towers are becoming anchor loads for networks expanding into village power systems, with formats that are unique to the developing world, especially India and Africa.”
One of the primary drivers of this market, according to the report, is the expansion of small, distributed energy sources at the retail distribution level of power service, including solar PV and wind turbines below 100 kW in size. Along with the rapid proliferation of corresponding new battery technologies to help firm up these variable renewable energy generators, this trend has opened up new possibilities for distributing power via DC distribution networks, including microgrids, nanogrids, and other alternative network architectures.
The report, “Direct Current Distribution Networks”, provides a review of key market and technology trends with DC at high, medium and low voltage levels, along with capacity and vendor revenue forecasts, broken down by region, for the following four market segments: DC data center microgrids, off-grid green telecom/village power systems, DC subsystems within commercial buildings, and small-scale modular systems for the U.S. Department of Defense’s 600 forward operating bases and mobile, tactical microgrids. Key players in the industry are profiled in detail, and SWOT analyses are provided for each market segment. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.