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Power electronics: an evolving landscape

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Diamond, SiC IGBTs, and gallium oxide are technologies to look out for in the Long term, says Yole

Trends such as electrification, the growing use of batteries, and automation are boosting the demand for power electronics, driven by efforts to slow down climate change by reducing CO2 emissions and increasing system efficiency.

According to Yole's 'Status of the Power Electronics Industry 2022' report, the power electronics discrete and module device market will see a CAGR of 6.9 percent between 2021-2027, due to growing demand from electric and hybrid electric vehicles (xEV), factory automation, photovoltaics, wind turbines, UPS , and home appliances.

Yole forecasts that the total power semiconductor device market will reach $59.6 billion in 2027, with discrete and module power devices expected to reach $30.5 billion.

Milan Rosina, principal analyst, Power Electronics and Batteries at Yole Intelligence said: “2021 was marked by increasing global demand for power electronics that has basically impacted all major players. Looking closer at the top power electronics player’s rankings, we see that Infineon Technologies is a clear leader, far ahead of its two leading competitors: onsemi and STMicroelectronics. These companies are followed by many smaller power electronics players.”

Consolidation of the power electronics supply chain is expected in the coming years. From Yole Intelligence’s analysis, every ranked company will remain significant (although behind Infineon Technologies) provided it merges or acquire a company with a key product in its portfolio. Moreover, manufacturing capabilities need to be increased to be able to keep or increase their share of the market.

In addition, an increase in device design and back-end and testing capacity needs to be reinforced. In this regard, big investments have already been announced in power device manufacturing: more than $16 billion was spent on new facilities with at least partial power device production allocation during the 2020-2025 period.

Ana Villamor, team lead analyst for power electronics activities within the Power and Wireless division commented: “At Yole Intelligence, we estimate that there will be no disruptive power electronics technology coming to the market in the next few years since the last major disruption – the emergence of SiC & GaN – is still playing out and is grabbing a share of the traditional silicon market. Nevertheless, several technologies are being developed that will come to fruition in the long-term, such as diamond, SiC IGBTs, and gallium oxide.”

In any case, there is much happening in different areas (at system, device, and wafer levels) to reduce losses, lessen environmental imprint, and reduce costs. For instance, all technologies are moving to larger wafer sizes, toward 12-inch for power silicon devices and 8-inch for GaN and SiC, which will reduce costs.

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