Message from CEO Balu Balakrishnan
In 1997 I read a paper from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory explaining that billions of dollars are wasted each year by computers, TVs and other electronic devices that are plugged in but not in use. One of the culprits behind this "standby" waste was the power supplies that convert the high voltage from a wall outlet into the lower voltage needed by most electronics. These power supplies tended to be highly inefficient when it came to supplying just enough watts to power a remote-control sensor, LED display, or some other standby function. At that time, Power Integrations was developing a new power-supply chip called TinySwitch, featuring an innovative switching technique that enabled high efficiency at reduced levels of output. It was a "light bulb" moment for us; what we had thought would be a side benefit of our new product was not only a solution to a major economic and environmental problem but also a great business opportunity for Power Integrations.
Since then, all of our AC-DC power-conversion chips have included this technology, known as EcoSmart. By the beginning of 2021 we had shipped more than 16 billion chips with EcoSmart technology, generating estimated savings of more than 140 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and tens of millions of tons of CO2 emissions. In 2020 alone, we estimate that EcoSmart technology saved enough energy to power about 1.6 million U.S. homes for the entire year, without adding cost, and without any change in behavior on the part of end users. I believe that the impact of EcoSmart technology will expand in the years ahead as billions of new electronic devices are connected to the grid, such as USB charging ports, smart utility meters, networked thermostats and myriad other “IoT” and smart-home devices.
In addition to EcoSmart technology, our commitment to clean technologies includes investments in LED lighting, efficient motor-driver products and high-power gate drivers. Our LED-driver products deliver the reliability and efficiency needed to help LED technology fulfill its promise to transform the lighting industry. Our motor-driver products complement the efficiency of brushless DC motors used in many consumer appliances, while our gate drivers are vital components in clean technologies such as solar- and wind-energy, electric vehicles and efficient long-haul DC transmission. And our recent introduction of highly efficient gallium-nitride, or GaN, transistors—after nearly a decade of work and millions of dollars of R&D investment—is yet another major breakthrough in energy-saving semiconductor technologies.
More broadly, we believe that there is economic opportunity in operating with the benefit of society and the environment in mind. We take the long view in our planning and decision making, and invest for sustainable growth and profitability. We use solar energy to help power our facilities, and will nearly triple our worldwide solar capacity in 2021, expanding our solar array in San José and installing solar power at our new facilities in Switzerland and Germany. We incorporate green, conflict-free materials in our products, and foster stable, long-term relationships with manufacturing partners holding ISO quality and environmental certifications. We value our employees, giving them the tools and training to grow as individuals, and the freedom to take risks in the service of innovation. During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when many companies reduced headcount or cut back on employee compensation, we gave normal annual salary increases and continued hiring, increasing our headcount by four percent in 2020. As a result of our long-term, sustainable approach, we have a track record of positive earnings, high levels of customer satisfaction, and below-average employee turnover relative to our industry.
I'm proud not only of what our technology has done to benefit the world, but also the responsible way in which we conduct our business. I invite you to read more about it here on our website.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Power Integrations, Inc.