The number of units shipped is expected to grow to 80 million in 2020, according to Brice Le Gouic, activity leader, power electronics at Yole Développement.
PV was one of the six most attractive applications named in the report, along with wind turbines, electric vehicles/hybrid electric vehicles, rail traction, motor drives and uninterrupted power supply and UPS. The inverter market reached $45 billion last year for motion and conversion as energy related topics became more important in 2012.
The research undertaken by Yole Développement confirmed that improvements were made in the semiconductor sector and this enabled more efficient conversions, lighter systems and more reliable end-products. The company also updated its technology roadmaps for materials and devices.
Power stack trend
Yole Développement surveyed the power stack trend in 2012. The power stack is the innovative sub-system of an inverter. Inverter and device makers are reportedly turning to power stack manufacturing for the following reasons:
- Vertical integration;
- Access to several applications since power stacks are less application dependent than inverters;
- Internal cost reductions;
- Access to high-end markets; and
- Sustain R&D in-house.
Companies like Ingeteam, Semikron and ABB have made this move. However, smaller companies like AgileSwitch are also interested in power stacks.
Two main trends were observed from the power electronics industry. Japanese and Chinese manufacturers tended towards internal vertical integration and mastered the manufacturing processes of each sub-system and component. The Japanese were seeking cost reduction and absorption of intermediary margins by doing this, whereas the Chinese were looking to get access to the technology and show proof of quality.
Meanwhile, EU and U.S. players diversified and acquired new or complementary competencies, or engaged in high-end R&D and prototyping services.