The use of variable frequency drives (VFDs, also known as variable speed drives and inverter drives) in power delivery has ramped up in recent years because of their efficiency and motor control benefits. However, the non-linear loads from such drives introduce harmonics that can negatively affect power quality, cause power loss and erratic equipment behavior, as well as overheat and damage connected equipment. Harmonic filters are thus employed to mitigate harmonic currents and prevent them from reaching the power system.
Increased use of VFDs has spurred growth in the harmonic filter market. Frost & Sullivan, the Mountain View, Calif.-based market research analyst and business growth consultant, forecasts the global harmonic filter market to grow annually at 7.1 percent from 2012 to 2019. This means the market is expected to expand from $570.5 million last year to $924.5 million six years from now.
Frost & Sullivan notes that growth in harmonic filters is occurring everywhere, from mature markets like North America to developing regions in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. Frost & Sullivan Energy and Environmental Senior Industry Analyst Anu Elizabeth Cherian said that “the harmonic filter market is set to rapidly expand … as infrastructure upgrades are aggressively pursued.”
Active filters, which use power electronics and are installed in series or in parallel with the non-linear load to cancel out harmonic currents/voltages, are popular in North America. Passive filters, which are circuits tuned to the harmonics in the system to be shorted out, are predominantly used in South America, according to Frost & Sullivan, which adds that there is greater uptake for active filters versus passive filters. “End-users prefer active filters because they are adaptable and easy to design,” Cherian said.
There were 13.5 trillion filtering units on the global market in 2012, and price per unit varied from $30,000 to $100,000. Globally, more than 100 harmonic filter suppliers existed, but the top three companies commanded 27.6 percent of market share. Typical filter unit lifecycle before replacement was rated at between five and 10 years.
Frost & Sullivan, however, does note of potential hindrances to growth. One is economic uncertainty; the slow economic recovery since 2008 and customers’ restrained spending pegged back the market to some extent, it says. Further, the slowdown in infrastructural build-outs in telecommunications and investments made customers cautious about investing in harmonic filters.
Another cocern that Frost & Sullivan notes is the lack of product differentiation among suppliers. And it pegs the degree of technical advancement among products at four on a scale of one to 10, although it is increasing. The average product development time was 2.3 years.
More details on the market are available in the report Analysis of the Global Harmonic Filters Market. See www.frost.com.