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A GREEN REVOLUTION IS GIVING WAY TO NEW POWER ELECTRONICS APPLICATIONS
Electrification trends in transportation, CO2 emission reduction goals, and clean energy production have pushed the power electronics industry’s growth dynamics in a new direction. Demand is set to increase dramatically over the next 15 years, driving technology changes and production capacity investment, as well as a profound transformation of the supply chain. Either as a discrete device, as a power module, or combined with IC functionalities, power devices are found in multiple applications: industrial motor drives, wind turbines, photovoltaic (PV) installations, trains, UPS, electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and home appliances.
Power electronics play an essential part of virtually every system in one or more ways. Any device that requires an electrical power input is driven by power electronics, which convert electric energy of one type – whether AC or DC – into another. Different types of power devices have been developed to adapt to an application’s voltage, power, or reliability requirements. MOSFETs, for example, are used for a huge number of purposes, including switching power supplies, power converters, motor control, and voltage regulators. IGBT, in the same way, can be found in multiple systems requiring high voltage or high power, especially for electric vehicle (EV) applications.
Semiconductor innovation comes in at the device level, ushering in new compound semiconductor materials such as SiC or GaN power devices. At the module level, including dedicated packaging solutions, it serves the optimization of electrical performances and reliability. The use of new materials and development of new architecture – not to mention the knowledge required to implement this – obviously comes at a cost.
With the increase in component demand and major manufacturers at full capacity, the power electronic industry is undergoing a tremendous change. 300mm manufacturing line expansions are ongoing around the globe, with investments by major players such as Infineon Technologies and STMicroelectronics in Europe, onsemi and TI in the USA, HH Grace and CR Micro in China or Toshiba and Rohm in Japan. Overall, the foundry business for power devices is increasing dramatically, supporting both existing IDM as well as fabless companies. In parallel with the evolution of the production infrastructure, high efficiency requirements are diversifying the need for power electronics components and semiconductor technologies.
While SiC MOSFETs are mainly penetrating the electric vehicles (EV) and Photovoltaic (PV) markets, GaN HEMTs are being adopted in consumer electronics systems such as smartphone chargers. New-generation silicon MOSFET and IGBT dies are being developed by the major IDMs. As an example, with high growth expected for IGBTs, driven mainly by e-mobility, the supply chain is adapting its strategy and investing massively.
On the customer side, end-system makers are becoming increasingly intrusive in device choice, design and even manufacturing, thus restricting device and sub-system manufacturer freedom.
All these trends underline the power electronics industry’s effervescence, and the strategic choices made by the players behind the scenes.
At Yole Group, we believe that a holistic understanding of the end system is more important than ever. It is within the industry’s dynamic context that Yole Group provides you with everything you need to know about power electronics and modules. We possess a state-of-the-art overview of the entire power industry, related applications and markets. And through our reverse engineering and costing analyses, we are able to identify the latest in technical innovations and analyze developments at the device and module levels.
With Yole Group’s analysts, you have a direct access to the technical choices made by the leading power electronics companies. We help you examine their strategy through the filter of our deep power electronics expertise and knowledge. You get an accurate picture of the industry and can thus project your way forward. We detail for you a high value-added description of the supply chain and the companies’ market positioning. Variables such as the electric vehicles/hybrid vehicles (EV/HEV) revolution and environmental issues are heightening the competition between players. We help you cut above the fray to make the right choices for their business’ growth. We also research the dynamics of each device type, such as MOSFETs, IGBTs, wafers, epiwafers and power modules. We explore the different device types and materials’ market shares, as well as the global power supply chain for the likes of wafers, devices, and modules, in units and value.
Any system or application backed by electricity that one can think of will have power electronics at its core, enabling it to function. That has been the case for decades.
Today, many power electronics applications are driven by CO2 regulations. Green energy production and high efficiency distribution, power electronics systems and technologies are used in a huge range of applications, including mobile phones, electric vehicles (EV) and charging infrastructure, lighting, renewable energies, etc.
The global power electronics market is set to display steady growth over the next five years, with 7% CAGR. On the substrates side, silicon remains the dominant material for the production of power devices. But the growth of SiC and GaN power devices is very strong. At Yole Group, we expect that such innovative substrates will represent more than 15% of the power device industry in five years – a tide change.
At the industry level, the ranking among power electronics device manufacturers remains unchanged, with Infineon Technologies, STMicroelectronics and onsemi heading the list, but all big power electronics players are expanding their business to new segments and products to widen their portfolio and secure the supply chain.
The transition from internal combustion engine reinterpreted to electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid vehicles (HEV) is a major driver behind the evolution of power electronic devices. Car makers first focused on the battery, but rapidly understood that a great battery with poor power management systems can result in a very inefficient car. They began investing in inverters, converters, onboard charge, boosters (and the related overall architecture), spurring innovation – and generating differentiation among the cars available for sale.
The next step is now to optimize both the battery with the power electronics of the electric car – and its electric motor. A new chapter is just beginning, with a race that will likely run over the next decade.
The road from power devices to electrical system performance could be slippery. On one side, power modules need to be optimized to the power devices implemented – depending on power range and type of device, but also the behavior of the device, or whether one is using SiC or Si based devices. On the other side, they need to be adapted to the system hosting them. This dual optimization is rather complex, with multiple materials (such as TIM, die attach, interconnexion between chips, baseplate, and encapsulation) and architectures to choose from. As guarantors of new devices’ performance, power modules – and power module materials – are huge markets.