What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? Perhaps like over half of Britons, you check your mobile phone. There is no question; mobile devices are now integral to our daily lives and not just in the West. According to the GSMA mobile phone subscriptions have risen to 475m from 90m in sub-Saharan Africa within the past seven years. Worldwide, almost half the global population now uses mobile devices. Mobile communication has become an important part of our everyday lives. It is also an essential part of how economies across the globe work, function and grow. In the developing world, mobile has transformed the way consumers and businesses operate and increases in the use of mobile telephony are directly related to increased economic growth.
But take away the power for mobile devices and suddenly our connected world falls into disarray. The mobile world and all that it enables lasts only as long as its batteries! In addition, our phones and other mobile devices are getting smarter and more capable; they can do more and we want to do more with them. In turn, they are becoming more power hungry which further increases the demand on their batteries.
Even if you have access to mains electricity, it takes time to recharge and often you may be competing with colleagues for power outlets, or like many in the developing world, you will have very little or no access to an electricity grid.
It would be fair to say that improvements in battery technology have not kept pace with the demands of today's mobile technology. How often do you have to recharge your phone in a typical working day for example? In fact, a study in the UK conducted by Intelligent Energy showed that more than 70 per cent of mobile users find themselves with a dead or nearly-dead battery on their mobile device at least once per week.
It is not acceptable that progress, smarter working and economic growth are endangered because of battery limitations. Quite simply, ways have to be found to put more energy into people's hands. We can't afford to wait for a breakthrough in battery technology which may never happen, so what is to be done?
Fortunately there is an answer and it comes in the form of hydrogen fuel cells.
Fuel cells, such as those being commerclialised by Intelligent Energy and our partners, are suitable for a range of sectors. They are a highly efficient and clean way of generating electricity, combining hydrogen with air to produce power with no polluting emissions.
A highly scalable technology, they are being targeted at a wide range of applications, from cars, buses, and motorbikes to back-up and distributed power generation and for providing power to mobile devices.
Toyota recently announced that it will be launching its Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) in 2015, and it is in this context as automotive 'engines' that fuel cells are perhaps most familiar.
In the automotive industry, FCEVs offer superior driving range and rapid refuelling when compared to battery only electric vehicles. When fuel cells are manufactured at volume, their costs are expected to be competitive with internal combustion engines - no technological breakthrough is required only economies of scale.
At Intelligent Energy, we're working to bring fuel cell technology and its compelling attributes into the world of consumer electronics. Fuel cells can offer a week's worth of energy without the need to recharge, giving mobile consumers the energy freedom and independence to stay connected for longer. It will mean having your own personal and instant energy, whenever and wherever you need it, whether you're at home, work or on the road.
Imagine being liberated from the mains and not having to play 'hunt the socket' when you're next at the airport or train station, well that future is closer than you think.
Watch this space!!