The State of Power from the Sunshine State: Five Trends from Orlando’s APEC 2023
Posted April 13, 2023 by Conor Quinn
Combining an extensive exhibition with five days of seminars, presentations and technical sessions, the annual Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) is a key event in the power conversion community calendar. It is a great forum to discover the latest industry trends, as well as new technology and application developments.
APEC 2023 hosted over 270 exhibitors and took place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. It was great to see this key event back to pre-Covid levels. The exhibitions, plenary sessions and technical papers highlighted yet again how the dynamic and fast-moving power conversion industry drives efficient solutions that meet future power demands in the most sustainable and cost-effective ways possible.
As in previous years, Advanced Energy exhibited our latest power conversion solutions and contributed three papers to various industry and technical sessions. In addition, we appreciated the opportunity to meet with customers, suppliers, academia and industry thought leaders.
Here are some of our key takeaways from APEC 2023:
New Solutions to Address Energy-Intensive Applications
Many industries such as indoor farming and hyperscale data computing are facing the challenge of an unpredictable, and often costly, global energy supply. With ever-increasing energy demand, these applications are seeking out new solutions that optimize power conversion efficiency.
As described in our latest blog on indoor farming, this challenge poses opportunities to develop new, creative architectures and solutions that push the boundaries of efficiency compared to conventional models. For example, our centralized approach to LED lighting can improve energy savings by up to 10.5% and reduce HVAC electricity by 6%. At APEC 2023, AE’s systems and applications engineer Frank Cirolia discussed this approach in a technical presentation titled “Powering Future Indoor Farming Facilities.”
Similarly, data centers are looking at new ways of delivering both power and cooling as demand for high-performance, data-intensive processing continues to grow, not least with the advent of generative, pre-trained AI models. At APEC 2023, Advanced Energy’s Senior Director of Technical Marketing for Hyperscale, Harry Soin, chaired an industry session on this topic and presented a paper introducing the latest developments in 48 V power supplies and BBU shelves that efficiently power next-generation, data intensive processing. You can find out more about this topic in our blog covering last year’s OCP Global Summit.
Sustainability Through Power Conversion Innovation
Raising efficiency is critical to meeting net zero targets. While making the best use of energy is vital for all electrically powered designs, shaping and transforming the way power is used, delivered and managed help us create technologies that make better use of global energy resources. This is a topic we have discussed on multiple occasions, including in our latest blog post about achieving sustainability through efficient power conversion.
Wide Bandgap Enters the Mainstream
As fabrication costs fall and performance demands grow, wide bandgap technologies continue to gain acceptance across a growing number of applications and industries. During APEC 2023, numerous new GaN and SiC devices were announced. Conference papers covered everything from GaN for EV powertrains to the mass commercialization of SiC. At Advanced Energy, our ongoing investment in R&D encompasses a range of underlying technologies including both conventional silicon and wide bandgap solutions.
Continued Advances in Medical Power, Wireless and EV Technologies
Power is an increasingly important design consideration as medical devices and platforms dramatically improve performance and capabilities. Power is also critical as medical equipment continues to move away from traditional clinical settings. The former is driven by factors ranging from the growing use of artificial intelligence to improved imaging capabilities, while the latter necessitates higher power density solutions that support smaller, more portable equipment. We discussed these topics and more in a blog post highlighting the trends shaping the medical industry.
There were also discussions and technology demonstrations that highlighted the advances being made in other areas. These included wireless power, which is poised to break through the distance and wattage limits of Qi to become more mainstream, and the ongoing electrification of transportation.
APEC 2023 demonstrated just how critical face-to-face interaction is when it comes to presenting and discussing ideas with peers – something that the organizers recognized with additional activities specifically designed to encourage networking. What’s more, this year’s event also had an eye on future generations looking to become part of the industry thanks to the first-ever APEC student job fair, which was designed to bridge the gap between employers and prospective new hires.
Ultimately, this year’s event further re-enforced how much power has risen up the design agenda as engineers, system architects and OEMs seek out increasingly efficient solutions that address performance and form factor demands while minimizing operating costs and supporting environmental sustainability.