Passive components: massive technology innovations are needed to follow the power converter industry growth

The overall inverter market in 2015 exceeded US$ 47 billion driven by many market segments including EV/HEV , PV inverters, rail traction, wind turbines and more. “With an impressive 6% CAGR until 2021 , the power converter is clearly driving the power passive components market”, announces the “More than Moore” market research and strategy consulting company, Yole Développement (Yole).

Under their new power electronics report titled “Passive Component Technologies & Market Trends for Power Converters” Yole’s analysts detail this market evolution and propose a comprehensive overview of the latest technology trends. According to Mattin Grao Txapartegi, Power Electronics Analyst at Yole, CAGR  between 2015 and 2021 of the power capacitor market reaches +10%. In parallel, during the same period, power inductor market CAGR is showing 8% growth.
Those figures are not the only results of Yole’s power electronics technology & market report. Indeed this analysis proposes as well a detailed description of related technologies. Moreover the consulting company is offering a comprehensive understanding of market dynamics for the following applications: EV/HEV, PV inverters, wind turbines, rail traction, UPS and industrial motor drives. For each market segments, key drivers have been identified and analyzed. And a technical roadmap is also detailed in this report.
Pushed by the power converter market, industrial companies are asking for more and more innovations, especially within the EV/HEV and renewable energy sectors. Those industrial sectors are showing new trends in power converter design and asking for new technical requirements.
Showing impressive market figures and asking for disruptive technologies, what is the status of the passive component industry for power converter applications? Yole is analyzing for you this dynamic ecosystem…

The passive components market including capacitors, inductors and transformers, resistors and laminated busbars for power electronics was worth US$3.8 billion in 2015.
Electrification trends in transport, such as automotive and rail, together with the needs of renewable energy sources are making power electronics markets more and more stable. And this trend is very positive for tier II passive component suppliers.
In parallel, EV/HEV is undoubtedly the central market segment for such power devices. “The passive component market will follow the EV/HEV market evolution,” explains Mattin Grao Txapartegi from Yole. “At Yole, we forecast a strong growth for the next decade”. The automotive industry will grow from 17% of power capacitor demand in 2015 to 37% in 2021 and from 6% to 19% of inductor and transformer demand over the same period.
Yole’s report explores the EV/HEV market in detail, as well as the markets for PV inverters, wind turbines, rail traction, industrial motor drives and UPS .
Major power converter challenges can be defined as follow.
Switching frequencies are rising, semiconductor junction temperatures increasing and systems shrinking. These three factors impact the required features of passive components directly or indirectly.

In the passive component report, Yole’s analysts explain the general trends that come from system or application level. These include large 1,500V direct current PV plants, HVDC  line connections between off-shore or isolated wind turbine farms and the grid and 48V mild hybrid vehicle launches in Europe.
They also detail the current passive component technologies and the function that they perform in EV/HEV, photovoltaic, wind turbine, rail traction, industrial motor drives and UPS. For instance, while wirewound and steel grid resistors can be used for braking, pre-charge or energy dumping in general, thick film resistors are used for precision as snubber resistors.

In power applications, polypropylene film capacitors are becoming widespread, and have replaced electrolytic aluminum capacitors in many cases. But a coming automotive industry trend could still change the situation. Mild hybrid vehicles may adopt a single cooling loop in the next 2-3 years that would challenge converter designers. The maximum temperature of the cooling system will be rated to 105°C, meaning temperature junction of the IGBTs will increase. Consequently, the DC link capacitors or laminated busbars will need to handle a temperature close to 120°C. The immediate effect would be the replacement of polypropylene DC link capacitors by polyester film or new material capacitors. Film alternatives like PEN , PPS , and PTFE  can attain higher temperatures, each with advantages and drawbacks, which Yole has also analyzed. As well as identifying the companies that are working on new products for high temperature solutions.

New technologies are emerging to meet the more sophisticated needs of smaller, more efficient and more integrated converters, mostly in the SiC  and GaN  semiconductor fields, and in power packaging materials and techniques. Now passive component manufacturers also need to propose solutions that converter designers will be ready to implement.

Magnetic components also illustrate the challenges. One of SiC and GaN’s benefits come when driven at high frequencies, from hundreds of kilohertz to megahertz, which means magnetic core materials and designs need to be rethought. Capacitor manufacturers are proposing new design approaches to minimize inductance below 5nH. Partnerships between capacitor and laminated busbar manufacturers could enable complete offerings that will better fulfill all and each of the new requirements.

A detailed presentation of passive components report for power converter applications is available on, power electronics reports section.


EV/HEV: Electric Vehicle/Hybrid Electric Vehicle

CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

UPS : Uninterruptible Power Supplies

HVDC : High-Voltage Direct Current

PEN : Polyethylene Naphtalate

PPS : Polyphenylene Sulfide

PTFE: Polytetrafluoroethylene

SiC : Silicon Carbide

GaN : Gallium Nitride


Source: Inverter Technology Trends and Market Expectations report, Yole Développement, May 2016