Posts

Mitsubishi announced that their team developed an ultra-compact Full Silicon Carbide (SiC) inverter, targeting HEV (Hybrid & Electric Vehicle) applications. They claim it to be the world smallest with a volume of 5 litres.

The power density is 86 kVA/L, which is 10x more than CE+T Power, winner of the Google Little Box Challenge, with exactly 8.85 kW/L.

Mitsbishi Electric SiC inverter electric hybrid vehicle

Mitsubishi did not release more technical details than the picture up here. On the other side, they claimed to use solder to connect power semiconductors and cooling elements, in order to reach the best performance and lifetime. Commercialization is not planned before 2021… But more technical details will come during the National Convention of the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEEJ) from March 15-17, 2017.

 

 

Omron Corp announced that it will release the “KPM2” PV inverter suited for “overloading,”  in December 2016.

‘Overloading’ is a feature that allows this single-phase PV inverter to  handle more panels that it’s rates power announces in order to maximize elecricity production during mornings, evening or small sunlight moments.

Omron overlaod production curve example

Ormon presentation of the Overload feature

Maximum input voltage is 450V DC, and maximum current is 11A. It is a single-phase PV inverter for outdoor use. It is designed for residential and small-scale solar power installations.

As a result, it becomes possible to ensure business feasibility even with a low purchasing price (FIT tariff), the company said. Omron plans to sell 300,000 units during the next 3 years.

 

 

Panasonic Corporation today announced that it will start mass production of a high-speed gate driver (AN34092B) optimized for driving its GaN power transistor X-GaN in November 2016. The company will also start mass production of two types of X-GaN (PGA26E07BA and PGA26E19BA) and provide solutions in combination with high-speed gate drivers.

GaN gallium nitride power device transistor market production

GaN is one of the next generation semiconductor compounds that can achieve space and energy savings when applied to transistors used in various power units. A gate driver is required to drive a transistor; however, general gate drivers for conventional silicon (Si) transistors cannot exploit the potential of GaN transistors since the gate structure of GaN transistors is different from that of Si transistors.

The new high-speed gate driver (AN34092B) helps our X-GaN easily and safely achieves high-speed switching performance. It can drive transistors at high frequencies of up to 4 MHz and integrates the active miller clamp function that prevents malfunction during high-speed switching. X-GaN achieves a 600 V breakdown enhancement mode through our unique technology and features high-speed switching and low on-resistance. The combination of X-GaN and dedicated high-speed gate drivers will contribute to significant space and energy savings of various power conversion units for industrial and consumer use.

X-GaN and dedicated high-speed gate drivers are suitable for various applications such as 100 W to 5 kW power supply units, inverters, data centers, mobile base stations, consumer electronics, audio-visual equipment, industrial and medical devices.

Source

ABB is launching a next generation battery charger based on silicon carbide (SiC) power semicon­ductors for use in all rail applications. Train batteries provide power for critical systems such as control and lighting. The new compact battery charger of the series, BORD­LINE® BC, complements ABB`s large stand-alone auxiliary converter product family and is compatible with all standard train battery voltages.

With a footprint of 360 x 220 mm – the size of a shoebox – it is about 10 times smaller and has a weight reduction of 80 percent compared to previous generations. The new device excels with a high power density of 1 kW per liter and per kg, an improvement from previous generations by a factor of 15.

 

SiC Silicon carbide infographie ABB batterie chargeur

Modern trains have varying requirements for power electronics components. In local transportation, such as trams, the components need to be as lightweight as possible to improve overall system energy efficiency. The need in long-distance and high-speed transportation is for compact and powerful, yet reliable devices.

The BORDLINE BC battery charger employs ABB’s well proven modular platform design while incorporating SiC technology for the first time. SiC power semiconductor technology enables a power density and performance not possible with conventional silicon (Si) power semiconductors due to its conductivity characteristics. ­Mastering­­­ SiC technology translates into dramatically reduced size, weight, and cooling requirements, and increased system efficiency, all critical factors for rail operators.

“The new battery charger leverages all the benefits available from SiC and soft switching technologies to allow for a new performance level of power electronics in railway,” said Sami Atiya, president of ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion division. “ABB has a long history of providing innovative and energy-efficient technologies to the rail industry and we will continue innovating for the transportation sector, a key growth area in our Next Level strategy.”

The new high-speed trains by Stadler operated by the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) on the new transalpine Gotthard base tunnel route between Zurich and Milan will be equipped with this groundbreaking technology.

abbbatterycharger_highres

ABB (www.abb.com) is a leading global technology company in power and automation that enables utility, industry, and transport and infrastructure customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact. The ABB Group of companies operates in roughly 100 countries and employs about 135,000 people.

Technological background information:

SiC power semiconductor technology offers significant advantages over traditional silicon-based devices in power applications requiring low losses, high frequency switching and/or high temperature environments. For example, the dielectric strength voltage of SiC is about 10 times greater than that of Si. Low losses are critical to the performance ratio and SiC technology can reduce the power loss by up to a factor of five. High frequency switching can be increased from the conventional technology level with a range of 10 to 20 kHz by a factor of 10.

source

Foreword

News websites and market analysis companies usually do their “trends to watch this year” article in January. It’s said to help digest the turkey and resell useless X-mas presents. As Point The Power doesn’t do anything like the others, here is our “PV market trends of the year” article in September.

Introduction

Solar inverter market has always been very lively. It has grown on the basis of government subsidies and feed-in-tariffs. I agree this was necessary to launch the business. It helped cut-off the chicken and egg problem. And it’s kind of fair that our own money pays, one way or another, to build a business that’s sustainable for the planet while keeping us in our comfort.

Meanwhile, this PV business special treatment was not meant to last forever. As government decreased their help to leave the market roll by itself, rationalization came back. It was required to be more efficient, not about energy produced, but about PV inverter and PV module company’s operation. This shakes-down the market and help consolidate. We now get to a point where we will see a bit more stability.

But what to expect next.

1.500V DC input for solar farm inverter and no less!

This is the main technical trend coming and it’s strongly confirmed. Solar farm installers want higher input voltage: and 1.5kV is the most efficient one. It does not require special high voltage certification and training for installation staff, but it’s still the most efficient combination to build large multiple string installations.

Studies proved it was the best trade-off. So expect every large PV inverter manufacturer to have more and more 1500V DC input power electronics systems in their catalog very soon.

And if you are a protection or combiner box system maker I hope you are aware of that trend and ready to follow.

(Multi-)String inverter at all stages

It’s not because there is a main trend in the utility scale photovoltaic inverter field that the string inverter will stay at residential level. With prices coming down, reliability and monitoring being improved, less than 50kW string and multi-string inverters are still and will keep being used in larger installations. They will also grow in size, and you will more powerful multi-string inverter in the future.

Merger & Acquisition: A summary

The last 3 years have been very active. A lot of companies decided to leave the PV business, sell their assets,  and a few others took the opportunity to expand or enter new geographical markets.

As a picture is always more than a thousand words, take a look at our analysis here under:

Photovoltaic inverter market mergers and acquisitions solar inverter business

Integration is the leitmotiv

There has been a lot of innovation and predictions about innovation. We now feel like there is a renew, all for the best of the photovoltaic world. Tesla recently announced they are working on how to build a solar roof. They did not mean how to put solar on a roof that is already here, or integrate solar on a roof, but build a roof that produces electricity. That’s quite new in the fact that it’s targeting an unexploited market so far: People who want to renovate the roof of their house. These people could not install PV before renovation, and might not have to pay for both a roof, and then a PV installation. If both are done at the same time, the equation is changed. We believe that’s what Elon Musk see has his plan for SolarCity.

Emphase microinverter photovoltaic size reduction and power electronics integration for solar

Enphase integration power electronics size reduction photovoltaic mi

Micro inverter world is changing too. If you follow our blog, you have seen a lot of innovations in topology and use of GaN devices for Consumer and smartphone laptop chargers. These converters are a bit smaller than Microinverters but still use the same type of components (Super Junction MOSFET today, GaN Transistors tomorrow). Enphase recently confirmed that they are redesigning their product line with more integration, with faster switching for power devices and a proprietary control IC. We should see a cost reduction resulting from these innovations. This comes right when the Module Level Power Electronics (MPLE) segment is revitalized.

TDK Corporation and Toshiba Corporation have agreed to establish a joint venture , TDK Automotive Technologies Corporation, that will engage in the development, manufacture and sales of automotive inverters for hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles.

A Joint venture for Automotive inverters

Many countries propose to impose more stringent regulation of automobile exhaust emissions in 2020 and after, in an effort to prevent air pollution and global warming. This trend to stricter regulation is expected to greatly affect the global automobile market, contributing to an increase in demand for hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the global market and greatly increased use of electric, fuel-cell, and other eco-friendly vehicles.

Under such market conditions, TDK is currently strengthening its energy unit[1] business, which mainly consists of hardware in power conversion for hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles, as well as software that controls such hardware as strategic growth products in the medium to long term. TDK offers a lineup of products, such as DC-DC converters, on board chargers and wireless power transfer systems that are currently being developed. The DC-DC converter in particular utilizes the magnetic material technologies that are the strength of TDK. They are one of the smallest in the industry and offer high efficiency and other product advantages that have won global recognition and a delivery record of more than 2.5 million units in aggregate.

Upon the establishment of the JV with Toshiba as described above, TDK’s energy unit business is expected to expand tremendously, as the addition of automotive inverters to TDK’s product lineup will broaden its product range and enable to meet diverse customer demand.

Toshiba develops technologies to meet automobile manufacturers’ requirements for low fuel consumption that combine advanced capabilities in automotive inverters with 120 years of cumulative know-how in motors. By integrating power semiconductor modules, Toshiba’s inverters secure high levels of heat dissipation in a short time, and also contribute to downsizing that reduces space requirements. Toshiba aims to strengthen its competitiveness in the growing market for automotive inverters and motors by combining its highly efficient automotive motors with automotive inverters developed by the JV and DC-DC converters developed by TDK, and proposing them as a system for hybrid and electric vehicles.

 

TDK Automotive Technologies profile:

1) Company name TDK Automotive Technologies Corporation
2) Address of the Head Office 3-9-1 Shibaura, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan  (within TDK Corporation)
3) Address of the business premises 2-15-7, Higashiohwada, Ichikawa-shi, Chiba, Japan (within TDK Technical Center)

2000 Nao, Mie-gun Asahi-cho, Mie, Japan

4) Main business Development, manufacturing and sales of automotive inverters
5) Stated capital 400 million yen
6) Ratio of capital contribution TDK: 75%; Toshiba: 25%
7) Date of establishment October 1, 2016 (scheduled)
8) Date of business start December 1, 2016 (scheduled)

Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd announced June 22, 2016, that it has developed a compact PV inverter with an output of 1kW.

“Micro-inverter,” which is used for each solar panel, is being proposed in the US as an advanced version of compact/decentralized PV inverters, which recently started to be introduced. However, micro-inverters have problems such as a high cost, low conversion efficiency and insufficient compatibility with regulations related to grid connection, according to Murata.

In view of this, Murata developed the 1kW product, “Mini-inverter,” as a PV inverter that features the advantages of both mainstream large-capacity/centralized PV inverters and compact PV inverters used for each panel. The new product controls several panels.

Murata designed high-efficiency circuits so that they can be stored in a compact, thin, light-weight case. As a result, the company realized a high conversion efficiency of 97% and a compatibility for grid connection, like conventional centralized PV inverters, with the compact PV inverter.

The service life of the Mini-inverter is 20 years, and it can drastically cut maintenance cost, Murata said. Data on the amount of power generated, etc is wirelessly transmitted (frequency: 920MHz). As a result, it becomes possible to eliminate the need for communication cables and to make the PV inverter work in conjunction with an HEMS (home energy management system) and BEMS (building energy management system).

The input and output voltages of the new PV inverter are 80-250V and 200V, respectively. And its dimensions are 450 x 160 x 50mm. Murata plans to start volume production of the product in fiscal 2017.

Source

Silicon-carbide (SiC) power electronics from STMicroelectronics has been used in ZapCharger Portable, a small electric-car charging station from Zaptec, a start-up company in the transformer industry.

ZapCharger works with any electric car on any grid. ST’s SiC MOSFET[1] devices have enabled Zaptec engineers to design a portable, yet powerful piece of equipment.  The 3kg, 45 x 10 x 10cm charger delivers an energy efficiency of 97%.

SiC Silicon Carbide MOSFET Zaptec electric car charger

Courtesy of STMicroelectronics

Inside the ZapCharger, 32 Silicon Carbide MOSFETs from ST deliver efficient power conversion with minimum losses.

“The key for us was to find a power technology with a very high efficiency so we could reduce the overall size of the charger without compromising performance. ST’s silicon-carbide offering was the perfect match,” said Jonas Helmikstøl, COO, Zaptec.

After successful field tests, ZapCharger is starting pilot production now, with volume ramp-up scheduled at the end of Q3 2016.

 

Source

The joint venture would capitalize on Valeo’s and Siemens’ leading positions in their respective sectors, with the ultimate goal of creating a global leader in the fast-growing market of automotive electrification.

The two industry leaders would join forces to offer the most complete and innovative range of high voltage (above 60V) components and systems for all types of electric vehicles (hybrids, plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles): e-motors, onboard chargers, inverters, DC/DC converters.

Valeo would contribute to the joint venture its high voltage power electronics business (onboard chargers, inverters, DC/DC converters) employing around 200 people of which 90 are based in France. Its under-60V powertrain activity would not be part of this joint venture. Siemens would contribute to the joint venture its E-Car Powertrain Systems Business Unit (e-motors, inverters) employing around 500 people of which 370 are based in Germany and 130 in China.

The joint venture would be headquartered in Erlangen, Germany.

The newly created entity would leverage on Valeo’s and Siemens’ strong complementarity in terms of product portfolio and geographical spread generating synergies in manufacturing and sourcing. Its strengths in production and development would allow to target customers on a global level as well as in specific key markets.

“We are delighted at the perspective of combining our strengths with Siemens in electrified powertrain systems,” said Jacques Aschenbroich, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Valeo.

“With the expertise offered by Siemens, a leader in power electronics and electric motor products, Valeo would maintain its technological lead by offering a comprehensive line-up of technologies ranging from micro-hybrid to all-electric solutions. This joint venture also illustrates the ability of European companies to develop leading industrial partnerships to bring breakthrough technologies to the global market.”

 

Klaus Helmrich, Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG, said: “The Valeo Siemens joint venture is yet another example of forming a true Europe based company. Combining Siemens’ extensive experience in electric motors and inverters with Valeo’s automotive business expertise and worldwide customer base would provide both companies with a solid basis in the growing electro mobility market.”

The project is subject to consultation of the employee representatives and approval by the relevant authorities.

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation announced today that it has developed a next-generation power module called X-Series New Dual HVIGBT module for traction and electric power applications in heavy industries. The new module features higher power density and efficiency for inverters, as well as a standardized package that allows for a flexible design of inverter systems.

Samples of the 3.3kV (LV100) version of the New Dual module will be available for shipping from March 2017. That will be followed by 1.7kV, 3.3kV (HV100), 4.5kV and 6.5kV versions in that order from 2018 onwards. The company also plans to add a lower-than 1.7kV version to the lineup in the future.

High-power modules are key devices for controlling power conversion in electronic systems in a wide range of power classes from several kilowatts up to several megawatts. Until now, modules with a maximum voltage rating of up to 6.5kV and a maximum current rating of several thousand amperes have been commercially available.

The New Dual HVIGBT module will satisfy demand for efficient, high power density semiconductor devices with a range of current and voltage ratings, while contributing to higher power output and efficiency in inverters by adopting the latest seventh-generation IGBTs and RFC diodes. Meanwhile, the standardized package dimensions will allow manufacturers of industrial electronics to simplify design and secure multiple sources for inverters.

Product Lineup (plan)

Model Package
type
Isolation
voltage
Collector-emitter
voltage
Maximum
current
rating
Connection Dimensions Sample
availability
HVIGBT
module
X-Series
New Dual
LV100 6kV 1.7kV 900A 2in1 W:100mm
x
D:140mm
x
H:40mm
2018 or later
3.3kV 450A March 2017
HV100 10kV 3.3kV 450A 2018 or later
4.5kV 330A
6.5kV 225A

 

Product Features:

  1. Contributing to high energy efficiency and high power density
    • The seventh-generation IGBTs adopting CSTBTTM and RFC diodes realize low power loss in inverter systems.
    • Improved package technology and low parasitic inductance enable maximum performance.
    • Three AC main terminals on the LV100 package spread and equalize current density, contributing to increased inverter capability.
  2. Common frame size supports more diverse inverter configurations and capacity
    • LV100 and HV100 modules have a common package design.
    • Simple, standard connections allow for optimal system design and a range of current ratings.
    • Lineup ranges from 1.7 to 6.5kV.
    • Improved flexibility and scalability for system configuration.
  3. Contributing to higher design efficiency by the use of a standardized new package
    • Compatible with terminal and attachment locations of Infineon Technologies AG (Germany) products.

Source

Navitas Semiconductor today announced the world’s first Gallium Nitride (GaN) Power ICs, using its proprietary AllGaN™ monolithically-integrated 650V platform. Combining GaN power FETs with GaN logic and drive circuits enables 10x-100x higher switching frequency than existing silicon circuits, making power electronics smaller, lighter and lower cost. A new generation of high frequency, energy efficient converters is being enabled for smartphone and laptop chargers, OLED TVs, LED lighting, solar inverters, wireless charging devices and datacenters.

“Breaking Speed Limits with GaN Power ICs”

“GaN has tremendous potential to displace silicon in the power electronics market given its inherent high-speed, high-efficiency capabilities as a power FET,”

says Dan Kinzer, Navitas CTO & COO.

“Previously, that potential was limited by the lack of equally high performance circuits to drive the GaN FETs quickly and cost effectively. Navitas has solved this remaining challenge to unlock the full potential of the power GaN market. With monolithic integration of GaN drive and logic circuits with GaN power FETs, the industry now has a path to cost-effective, easy-to-use, high-frequency power system designs.”

CEO Gene Sheridan added,

“The last time power electronics experienced a dramatic improvement in density, efficiency and cost was in the late 70s when silicon MOSFETs replaced bipolar transistors, enabling a transition from linear regulators to switching regulators. A 10x improvement in density, 3x reduction in power losses and 3x lower cost resulted a short time thereafter. A similar market disruption is about to occur in which GaN power ICs will enable low-frequency, silicon-based power systems to be replaced by high-frequency GaN with dramatic improvements in density, efficiency and cost. This is an exciting time for the industry.”

About Navitas:

Navitas Semiconductor Inc. is the world’s first and only GaN Power IC company, founded in El Segundo, CA, USA in 2013. Navitas has a strong and growing team of power semiconductor industry experts with a combined 200 years of experience in materials, circuits, applications, systems and marketing, plus a proven record of innovation with over 125 patents among its founders. The proprietary AllGaN™ process design kit monolithically-integrates the highest performance 650V GaN FET and GaN driver capabilities. Navitas GaN Power ICs enable smaller, higher energy efficient and lower cost power for mobile, consumer, enterprise and new energy markets. Over 25 Navitas proprietary patents are granted or pending.

Source

Ingeteam has just launched onto the market its new PV string inverter models, delivering output powers of up to 40 kW in a single inverter. In addition to the 40 kW model, a further three models have also been presented:  24 kW, 28 kW and 33 kW.

The UL version of these models, specifically designed for the North American market, has also been extended to offer output powers of up to 40 kW.

Ingeteam new multiple PV inverter photovoltaic production 40kW 28kW

This is the INGECON SUN 3Play TLMSeries of inverters, noted for their dual MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) as well as their maximum efficiency levels (98.5%) and high performance. For example, this inverter family is suitable for self-consumption systems with no injection of excess energy into the public grid.

Ingeteam has already started to supply these new models to many different markets. The models available until now, with output powers ranging from 10 to 20 kW, are already installed in countries such as Switzerland, Italy, Argentina, Paraguay, France, Australia, Chile, India, El Salvador, Brazil, Mexico, United States and Spain, to mention but a few.

Source