This could be quite a week for future generations of power management design engineers.
Two historic events are expected to take place this week on opposite sides of the planet that are likely to have a profound effect on the future prospects of global power management markets.
If the results of the two events go one way they should provide a major injection of 'energy' into the growth rate of the twin driving forces of the power management sector - batteries for electric vehicles and solar cell developments.
The first event is a political one. The U.S. Presidential election could prove a key stimulus to the growth of the global solar cell industry.
The second event could see Panasonic buying Sanyo which will create a global 'battery superpower' that could dominate the next generation of electric cars and portable electronic devices.
An EE Times poll of readers last week revealed strong support for Sen. Barack Obama to be the next U.S. president. However, the results from a separate reader survey seeking to gauge key issues for engineering in the 2008 election was perhaps more surprising. While, rather predictably, 60 percent of those polled expressed concern about the economy the second highest priority (21 percent) was logged as being development of sustainable energy sources.
The level of interest in sustainable energy from Americans was something of a shock to this European at least. But it does go to show that some sections of the USA are finally beginning to realize that fossil fuels do have their limitations after all and that a change in energy strategies is vital for future prosperity.
Given that Obama has made 'Change' the core theme of his election campaign it is not surprising that he is expected to support research and investment in solar cell developments and electric car technology more strongly than McCain.
Over in the Far East the Panasonic-Sanyo deal would give Japan a major player in a market that Korea and China have been threatening to dominate.
This week Panasonic is believe to be negotiating to buy a controlling stake in Sanyo from the three leading banks that rescued the company a couple of years ago. The trio of shareholders that owns the stake comprises Goldman Sachs, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Daiwa Securities SMBC.
Panasonic is thought to have amassed a cash war chest of more than £6.2 billion and the Credit Crunch has made the banking sector hungry for cash so a deal is on the cards for later this week.
If Panasonic acquired Sanyo it would immediately see the company secure leadership of the high-growth area of lithium-ion batteries.
Under the influence of the three banks Sanyo has sold many non-core assets and been re-fashioned as a battery and solar energy specialist. Sanyo is also among the world's top ten players in photovoltaic (solar) technology. At the moment Panasonic has a little solar technology in its product portfolio.
Recessions are often periods when certain companies can readily capture market share if they get their strategies and timing right. Panasonic obviously recognizes the opportunity. The company's second quarter profits may have dropped by 16 per cent but it did not cut its full year forecasts or capital expenditure plans. The deal may be agreed this week but is not likely to be completed until April 2009.
So an Obama win and the Panasonic deal being given the go-ahead look like giving the global power management sector a twin turbo boost as we enter 2009. That is hopefully also going to help stimulate growth in the European power management sector.
Alternatively, a McCain win and Sanyo rejecting Panasonic may mean we need to keep the jump leads handy for a few more miles as the recession begins to bite.