What is driving the power electronics industry?

28th November 2018
Posted By : Alex Lynn
What is driving the power electronics industry?

Enabling megatrends, the power electronics market has grown tremendously last year. Yole Développement (Yole) has discovered a $32.7bn power electronics market in 2017 in its report, ‘Status of the Power Electronics Industry’ published last summer.

Ana Villamor, PhD, Technology and Market Analyst from Yole, stated: “2017 is showing the increase in shipments all across the different applications, mainly due to IGBTs for EV/HEV applications. In addition, our analysis highlights an impressive 8.4% year-to-year growth rate for power electronics during the next five years, in the main power inverter segments, including EV/HEV, motor drives and UPS.”

Yole and System Plus Consulting are reportedly combining their expertise to reach a deep understanding of the power electronics industry within an impressive collection of technology, market and reverse engineering reports. Therefore, both partners are analysing technology evolution, market trends, the whole supply chain, the competitive landscape, the process flows and more.

‘Status of the Power Electronics Industry’ report is part of the power electronics reports collection. It is offering a broad overview of this industry from wafers to inverters including devices and modules. Within this collection, Yole and System Plus Consulting teams pursue their investigation all year long and reveal their vision of the industry, market dynamics, forecasts, supply chain analysis, M&A , technical innovations and issues and more.

What will be the tomorrow’s key drivers that will shape the market? What are the main technical challenges and solutions developed?

Last year saw a boom in the power electronics semiconductor market, mainly due to the increase in sales in IGBT devices for EV/HEVs and motor drives. EV/HEVs will account for almost $1.8bn worth of MOSFETs and more than $1.9bn in the IGBT market, including both discretes and modules.

MOSFET demand will also be driven by EV/HEV and by networking and telecommunications, which is booming with an 8.3% CAGR between 2017 and 2023 due to the installation of 5G network infrastructure. Globally, Yole expects a very positive perspective over the next five years, with a four percent CAGR between 2017 and 2023 for the power device market.

Villamor added: “It is worth remembering that no system can live without power, and with the increase in innovation and new technology there is the need to keep the evolution of the power semiconductor industry on track as this is the starting point.”

Power electronics is application driven, not technology driven, unlike other ‘More than Moore’ electronics areas. In recent years this market has grown thanks to megatrends such as the arrival of the digital era or environmental issues.

Milan Rosina, PhD Principal Analyst, Power Electronics & Batteries at Yole, explained: “We can directly link the latter to governmental funds given by different countries for energy efficiency improvement, increasing sales of new power electronics systems.”

As an example, the EV/HEV segment is driven technologically by CO2 emission reduction targets, higher efficiency requirements or less dependency on the oil industry.

Rosina added: “The electrification of passenger vehicles is revolutionising the power electronics industry from market and business perspectives, as well as from technology innovations.”

There are also new semiconductor-based materials at device level: the so-called WBG, as SiC or GaN.

Elena Barbarini, PhD, Head of Department Devices at System Plus Consulting, explained: “Both materials are intrinsically advantageous compared to Silicon due to their higher band gaps, lower conduction losses, and higher electron mobility. This gives the possibility to reduce the size of their components and their passives since the switching frequency can be increased while having overall less losses, thus making the system more efficient. Moreover, SiC has a much higher thermal conductivity than Si.”

Both SiC and GaN expect to benefit from the arrival of EV/HEV with an increase in production, and to finally have a significant entry into the power semiconductor industry. WBG manufacturers still have few years before large-scale mass production for automotive kicks in, but they are already very active and most of them are in development with OEMs to test their products. SiC products are mainly used in on-board chargers but also to some extent in the main inverter.

As from 2017, BYD uses SiC MOSFETs in some of their on-board charger products. On the other hand, the main inverter market is just starting with in-field road tests by both Tesla and Toyota. Other car manufacturers expect to have their first SiC-based module prototypes running as from 2020.

Hong Ling, PhD, Senior Technology & Market Analyst at Yole, stated: “At Yole, we expect, the SiC market for EV/HEV (including on-board chargers) will reach about $400m by 2022.”

System Plus Consulting and Yole intend to pursue their collaboration in 2019 to cover the latest innovations and understand the market evolution, with the aim to point out the strategic changes of the power electronics industry and help the community to identify next business opportunities and be a stakeholder in the growth of their customers.


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