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 (Yole) has analyzed their insights, and is now presenting an overview of the issues.

Yole is the “More Than Moore” market research, technology and strategy consulting company. Every day its analysts work with power electronics industry leaders, all along the supply chain. For more than 10 years, Yole has developed strong technology and market knowledge in this area.
Yole will present its latest analysis at the Applied Power Electronics Conference (Charlotte, North Carolina, USA on March 15-19, 2015 – Program). Yole’s presentation includes the following topic: 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. To meet Yole’s team and ask your questions, save the date and contact us right now.

“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.

Yole presented this analysis at the annual meeting of Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA), a US-based professional association that gathers the key players of the power electronics industry. Yole collaborates with PSMA’s members to learn more about industry changes and define roadmaps combining technical innovations and market evolution.

The power electronics industry has been focusing its research and development on WBG technologies. 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. (Sources: Power GaN 2014 report – SiC Modules, Devices and Substrates for Power Electronics Market report):

– 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 Pierric. 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 Pierric.

Yole’s power electronics activities follow the industry all along the supply chain: from basic components to power modules. The consulting company continuously improves its expertise and enlarges it with new topics of investigation, covering technical innovations, mergers and acquisitions and market trends.

Today, Yole’s team is mixing a “bottom-up” methodology, taking into account business opportunities of innovative technologies and a “top-down” analysis, more focused on the market needs from the applications side.

This comes thanks to Pierric’s recent appointment to the management of Yole’s business in this area. Before Yole, Pierric oversaw power electronic converters’ and WBG devices’ integration into electric vehicles.

With that knowledge, Pierric and his team work to understand technical challenges, evolution of the supply chain in each sector, and identify business opportunities. He announces that in 2015, Yole will concentrate its power electronics analysis on device integration. The company will also introduce new topics related to alternative energy and will explore energy storage and autonomy with two new battery market analyses.


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