Making The Switch: Managing The Electrification Of Everything

December 27, 2022

Forbes — December 27, 2022

Russ Garcia is CEO of Menlo Micro. He has has more than 30 years of experience in the electronic systems and semiconductor industries.

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act represents the largest climate investment in U.S. history. As with any major piece of legislation (especially one totaling $369 billion), it has its share of critics. What's beyond debate is that the legislation signals we're now moving beyond an era of climate skepticism and conversation to one of climate action.

Politicians, pundits and experts will continue to argue over the specifics of climate action, but the fundamental goal has become clear—transitioning quickly from carbon fuels to more sustainable, climate-friendly ways of powering our lives. Known as "the electrification of everything," this movement has gained momentum in recent years. Even before the Inflation Reduction Act, the market for electrification was projected to reach $126 billion by 2028. Climate-focused elements of this new legislation are sure to accelerate electrification.

While the electrification movement is a critical element of climate action, it presents some new challenges. Most of us have grown accustomed to cheap, reliable sources of energy, but recent events like the winter storm that shut down the grid in Texas and wildfires in California have made it clear that our nation's electric grid is in poor shape.

Removing carbon-based fuels from the equation will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but electrification will also dramatically increase the load on the grid. Take electric vehicles (EVs), for example. Experts have concluded we've reached the EV tipping point, but mass adoption of EVs means America's drivers will consume much more electricity. As we move steadily toward electrifying everything from cars to kitchens, that load on the grid will grow rapidly.

Decarbonizing our energy sources is an extremely important step, but the ability to efficiently and economically transmit and distribute electric power is equally vital. An often-overlooked component of the electrification conversation is the need for reliable, low-power switch and relay technology that can enable the energy grid to sustain large-scale electrification.

Controlling The Flow

An electric switch is like electricity itself—it's something we use constantly but rarely think about. There are trillions of switches facilitating everyday life, from light switches in our homes and myriad electronic devices to huge relays managing the flow of electricity across state and regional power grids.

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