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Power Electronics

Status of the Power Electronics Industry: It Is Now a Question of Integration

According to Yole Développement's team, wide band gap (WBG) technologies are almost ready to be used by power electronics integrators. The question is now: How? Industry players have identified many module packaging challenges. Yole Développement has analyzed their insights, and is now presenting an overview of the issues.

Yole presented its latest analysis at the Applied Power Electronics Conference (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA on March 15-19, 2015 - Program). Yole's presentation included: the power electronics industry's market structure, the status of its innovations, business opportunities at the substrate and device level, as well as from the applications side.

"The expected rebound from electric and hybrid electric vehicle (EV/HEV) applications and the emergence of smart-grid projects did not occur in 2013," explains Dr Pierric Gueguen, Business Unit Manager, Power Electronics, at Yole. "Indeed, the car market was still depressed and the industry segment not strong enough to sustain high volumes." (Source: Power Electronics in Electric and Hybrid Vehicles report). But how will EV/HEV applications impact the power electronics industry in 2015?

And what about Chinese players? Over the last few years, their leadership has been confirmed among their local markets. According to Yole's analysis, these companies are now looking for international business opportunities. Such a strategy could reinforce their positioning and strongly modify the supply chain.

Under this strategy, silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) have proved to be powerful solutions. They are now ready to be implemented in numerous power electronics applications:

- Most companies today choose SiC technologies for high temperature and high voltage applications. Yole confirms that SiC is propagating across all industrial segments. Contagion has begun. - In parallel companies are developing GaN solutions for medium-voltage applications, especially GaN HEMT transistors.

However, Yole's analysts have identified a potential bottleneck for WBG technologies' adoption: Device integration, especially at the power module packaging level. "WBG market shares are not directly linked to WBG component availability", highlights Gueguen. Instead they depend on when integrators will get benefits from such solutions. New WBG-based solutions induce research expenses at the power module packaging level. Such costs must be compensated for by added value at the system, compare to existing silicon solutions. "Integrators could ensure such added value by integrating WBG devices with an increased operating frequency and temperature", explains Gueguen.

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