Power Electronics

Data Points

Electronics Industry is Severely Unprepared for REACH Regulation

The results of a recent survey by IPC on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) preparedness in the North American and European interconnect industry are striking — revealing that more than 40% of manufacturing and purchasing personnel have no understanding of the REACH regulation as it affects their companies. The same holds true for nearly one-third of senior management and 29% of engineering personnel, according to IPC, an organization that describes itself as the association connecting electronics industries. The IPC report shows that even 28% of environment, health and safety personnel have no understanding of REACH's impact.

The new European Union legislation concerning REACH took effect on June 1, 2007. The REACH regulation gives greater responsibility to industry to manage the risks from chemicals and to provide safety information on the substances.

In contrast to the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive, which covers a narrow scope of substances in electronic products encompassing about 100 different chemicals, REACH covers substances in nearly all applications, totaling about 30,000 unique chemicals. While RoHS can address entire classes of substances at a time, REACH addresses each substance individually. Where RoHS requires supplier-to-customer communications, the REACH regulation makes bidirectional communication throughout the supply chain imperative.

“REACH will have a far-reaching effect on any company that buys, sells or uses chemicals,” said Tony Hilvers, vice president of industry programs for IPC. “Inevitably, all companies that use chemicals or make products that contain chemicals will be affected … and that pretty much sums up the entire electronics supply chain. The survey clearly indicates that our industry is woefully unprepared.”

The electronic survey, sent to executives throughout the electronic interconnect supply chain in North America and Europe, reveals that even with a deadline for preregistration of substances quickly approaching, only 18.3% of companies have identified and/or inventoried all substances in their products. In addition, IPC found that only 60.5% of chemical supplier respondents are planning to register or preregister substances at all.

A full report on the REACH preparedness survey is available at www.ipc.org/REACHsurveyreport. In addition, IPC has launched a REACH Supply Chain Task Force to help companies establish a path forward in addressing the impacts of REACH. Representatives from the OEM, EMS, pc-board and supplier industries make up the task force.

UL Opens Photovoltaic Testing and Certification Facility in Silicon Valley

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has opened what it describes as North America's largest commercially focused photovoltaic (PV) testing and certification facility. Located in San Jose, Calif., UL's 20,000-sq ft Photovoltaic Technology Center of Excellence increases testing capacity for the renewable energy industry and will enable manufacturers to get UL-listed PV products to market faster.

The lab's 14 test chambers and two solar simulators provide indoor and outdoor testing capabilities to evaluate PV modules and panels, and a wide variety of power systems accessory equipment. The facility also will offer a full portfolio of precertification services, including R&D and training.

“The opening of UL's PV testing facility is great news for the solar industry,” said Tom Kimbis, acting program manager for the U.S. Department of Energy's solar program. “Increased UL testing capacity should translate into shorter cycle times for listing solar modules, a critical component in getting solar end-products to market faster.”

The global growth rate for PV products has increased 30% annually during the last few years, according to the Worldwatch Institute. The requirement in the National Electrical Code for PV modules to be certified to UL standards in the United States, to the Canadian Electrical Code in Canadian markets and to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards for other world markets has increased demand for PV product testing and certification services.

The decision to base the testing facility in Silicon Valley enables UL to partner with the growing community of solar startups and existing companies who are bringing new technology, including thin-film PV, concentrated solar power and other cell technologies, such as CIGS and CdTe, into mainstream production. For more information on UL's PV services, see www.ul.com/dge/photovoltaics.

Advanced Meter Deployments Slow Before Gaining Speed Again in 2010

More than 10 million advanced electricity meters were shipped in 2007, split fairly between one-way and true two-way meters, according to a recent report by IMS Research (Austin, Texas). The research firm predicts a slight slowdown in total advanced metering deployments in 2008 and 2009. It also predicts that two-way meters will gain significant product share in 2010, when the world market for advanced meters picks up speed again.

“The true benefits of smart metering will not be fully appreciated until a comprehensive understanding of the Smart Grid is realized,” says Michael Markides, the IMS Research senior analyst who worked on the report. “Utility companies are predicted to move to purchasing two-way smart meters as more information becomes available, the technology becomes cheaper and easier to implement, communication standards become clearer, and governments act to promote energy efficiency and further liberalize their energy markets.”

With strong growth in renewable-energy use forecast for the primary advanced-metering markets (the United States and Western Europe), changes to the electricity grid will occur to deliver energy effectively.

Fully functioning two-way smart meters have been on the market for a few years, but high-volume adoption of these meters and their related communication infrastructure depends on an improved grid. For more information, contact Alison Bogle at [email protected] or see www.imsresearch.com.

Online Article Discusses IGBT Driver Requirements

At www.powerelectronics.com this month, an article in the Power Primer section sheds light on the subject of IGBT driver design. In “Calculating IGBT Driver Output Performance,” Markus Hermwille, senior product manager at Semikron International, discusses how “the choice of the driver and the calculation of the right driver output power determine the reliability of the converter solution.”

As Hermwille explains, “Insufficient driver power or the wrong driver may result in module and driver malfunction.” His article, which will post by Aug. 27, describes how to calculate driver output performance for switching IGBTs.

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