Rich, I have attended (and spoken at) trade shows in Germany (and elsewhere in Europe) and share your thoughts. People take them much more seriously.
Your topic, energy efficiency, is an important one. It is good to see companies looking to do business in new markets in the developing world applying these concepts up front. It would be unwise for the planet if we just threw our old technology at new markets.
The drive for efficiency has a long history in the West dating back to the oil shocks in the 1970s. We have constantly driven down the energy costs of economic output in the Industrialized West. That is why, for example, the US economy can maintain its share of the global economy over decades. Awareness of our effect on the environment spurs us to further efforts.
I think that one overlooked aspect is that the cost of engineering has continued to come down with computerization and the ability to share knowledge on a wide scale (the Internet).
Energy efficiency is definitely a major point of interest these days, you're right, Rich. This is clear with how it's being engineered directly into products, with a number of new innovations coming in energy harvesting and low-power components being released to help promote this. One note, though, about a trade fair as big as the one in Hanover...how energy efficient was it to power that show? Did the organizers think of ways to conserve energy? Certainly much would be consumed for a show that size.
I'd love to go to more trade shows, seminars and symposia, but money's been tight for the last ten years or so and my boss doesn't have the budget to send engineers hither and yonder, pay the travel expenses and use overhead money to pay salary. That's reality. If the trade show doesn't come to the local area, you will need to make a formal business case to attend, have a specific task or program that will benefit from attendence, and then submit an after-action report detailing what you learned and how it will benefit you and the company. Even when they come to the local area, you are encouraged to make up the time, so you are doing this on your personal time. I still go the more pertinent shows that happen to come through, even if it's on my own time.
So you can lament about the U.S. lack of interest in trade shows, but geographic dispersion of engineers, tight budgets, and tightening budgets of the exhibitors make trade shows in the U.S. an activity heading into the sunset.
The ease in which information can be gathered over the Internet has in large part supplanted the main function of trade shows anyways. So in a sense, you could say that we are way more efficient by not consuming all these resources to travel to a centralized location simply to gather information. Yeah, yeah, the networking, educational activities, presentations are valid points but . . . . it's getting harder to justify the cost. But just like energy efficiency, it's only worth the effort if you get a positive return on your investment.
Energy efficiency will continue to be a priority for decades to come, in part because we all use so much more energy today. I live in a neighborhood of older homes. When I arrived here a couple of decades ago, everyone on my block used 60A electrical service. Now, all the old homes on my street have upgraded to 100A service. All the new homes have 200A service. In 20 years, all of the new homes will probably need 400A service. I can only imagine that business use of energy is climbing faster than home use, and manufacturing plants are climbing faster than offices. Making energy-efficient products is going to be a must, largely because we keep using more energy, not less.
Capacity is not the same as use. In large part, the soaring panel sizes in newer homes is dictated by the NEC. Given the numbers of available circuits desired in a home (whether used or not) the code will dictate the size panel required to accomodate the ampacity.
Excellent post. Energy efficiency has become a primary design criteria and an influence on buying decisions (which it wasn't necessarily in the past). It will be interesting to see how much of an emphasis that larger companies will place on reducing energy costs, and devoting both manpower and capital to make it happen. My guess is that it is here to stay as a priority.
As energy efficiency is a universal factor, it will be great if we have a universal ratings for energy efficiency. Like how we have for star ratings for hotels. If any unit is below nominal energy efficiency rating then unit has to undergo some update.
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