photovoltaic panels, courtesy of DOE/NREL


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Energy efficiency: buildings, lighting, HVAC, computer systems

compact fluorescent light bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs with integrated electronic ballasts

Lighting, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) account for the majority of electricity used in residential, industrial and commercial buildings. Very significant energy savings can be achieved using energy efficient fluorescent or solid-state LED's lighting with power electronics controls. Similarly, variable speed motor drives can offer substantial energy savings in HVAC systems. Power consumption of computer systems, such as Internet data centers, is growing rapidly and is now considered a major bottleneck in further developments of the information infrastructure. Power electronics plays a key role in addressing the challenges of improving energy efficiency and reducing power consumption. Topics covered include:

  • Lighting: electricity consumption, energy efficient lighting technologies and principles of electronic controls
  • HVAC systems: efficiency analysis, energy savings using electronically controlled variable speed drives
  • Efficient power conversion and distribution in computing and communication systems

LED lighting

High-efficiency light-emitting diode (LED) lighting

Power electronics for variable speed HVAC systems Variable speed drives in building HVAC  
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, electric motors powering centrifugal pumps and fans in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems account for more than 50% of the electricity used in commercial buildings and industrial systems. If a building uses a constant-volume air handling system with no variable speed drives, the system runs at full speed all the time. Very significant energy savings (typically more than 50%) can be achieved using electronic sensors and variable frequency motor drives (VFD) controlled by power electronics. Electronically controlled VFD can reduce the motor speed when full flow is not required, thereby reducing the power and the electrical energy used.