Power Electronics: Technologies and Global Markets

Published - Aug 2008| Analyst - Jim Wilson| Code - EGY057A
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Report Highlights

This Report:

  • The global market for power electronics was worth $9.8 billion in 2007. This is expected to reach $10.2 billion by the end of 2008 and $17.7 billion in 2013, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7%.
  • The U.S. market generated $2.1 billion in 2007 and is expected to generate $2.2 billion in 2008. This should reach $3.9 billion in 2013, a CAGR of 12.1%.
  • Power MOSFETs have the largest share of the power electronics components market, worth $4.8 billion in 2007. This is expected to reach $5.2 billion in 2008 and grow at a CAGR of 7.3% to reach $7.4 billion in 2013.



Power electronics comprises a well established but still evolving family of electronic components and systems that vastly improve the performance and energy-efficiency of electric powered devices from cell phones to subway cars. Over the past two decades improvements in material science have reduced the size of all types of power electronics, while, at the same time, improving every operational parameter. Today’s designers can draw on an expanding inventory of components and devices for managing tiny piezoelectric motors, to kilowatt-size stadium lighting, to multi-megawatt power line stabilizing systems. The use of power electronics to provide more precise and economical motion controls makes it possible for create smaller but more powerful devices. Power electronics control systems also are at the heart of the 21st century’s first major advance in transport, the plug-in hybrid passenger car, and niche-market innovations such as the Segway Personal Transporter and the Taurus Electro electric-powered aircraft. As corporate and public policy planners begin to revise their economic forecasts to accommodate for the realities of permanently higher petroleum prices, the spotlight has rightly shifted to power electronics as a critical new energy management tool, in applications across the industrial spectrum. This is the first study of its type to assess the impact of power electronics on U.S. and global industries in this new energy environment.

BCC Research estimates that in 2007, the global requirement for all types of power electronics approached $10 billion, with demand closely following electricity use patterns. Over the course of the five year, 2008 to 2013, forecast period covered in this study, BCC Research projects global requirements will increase at a 11.7 % compound annual growth rate (CAGR), reaching $17.7 billion. 
Although the potential uses for power electronics will span power requirements from microwatts to megawatts at frequencies from direct current to light, the power electronics business will continue to follow the historic divides among two historic divides:  
  • Generation, transmission, and distribution. Or, what in the past was considered the electric utility side of the business, and
  • End-user consumption, which was traditionally divided into four groups of consumers: residential, industrial, commercial and transportation. To those four this study adds off-grid users, a fifth sector that in many ways owes its existence to the emergence of more capable and economical power electronics devices. 
This report, Power Electronics: Technologies and Global Markets, is organized into 14 chapters. Chapter two provides a summary of industry technologies and markets. The third chapter reviews the four basic types of power electronics conversion circuits: AC-DC, DC-AC, AC-AC and DC-DC. It then describes the four major types of solid-state components used in those circuits: power diodes, thyristors, power MOSFETS, and IGBTs, concluding with a discussion of ultracapacitors and wide band gap materials. The fourth and fifth chapters examine electricity product and transmission and distribution, each concluding with a global component level forecast. The following chapter discusses the special problems of forecasting the demand for power electronics brought about by rapidly changing patterns in energy use, most recently stimulated by the realization the world is entering the so-called “post peak-oil period.” The next five chapters discuss the use of power electronics in the residential, commercial, transportation, off-grid user, and industrial manufacturing sectors. In all this study provides 328 industry-specific forecasts for the end-user demand, one for each of those 328 NAICS-defined industries. A separate forecast is provided for demand in the U.S. and on a global and regional level. Chapter 12 provides a general discussion of the structure of the power electronics development community and identifies by name those corporations and organizations that have established themselves as the industry’s technology leaders, early adopters, and industry advocates. Appendix A (Chapter 13) lists the key power electronics products. Appendix B offers profiles of key industry organizations in the final chapter of the report (Chapter 14).
As the first decade of the 21st century draws to a close, it has become evident that the greatest difference among nations is not language, politics, social institutions, or cultural traditions. The great difference is access to modern technology, which at its most basic level is access to a reliable supply of electricity. It has become common for businesses to speak of the world as being flat. It is no more unusual for a product to be designed in Paris, engineered in South Korea, and manufactured in China for sale in the U.S. or E.U, than it is to see the sun rise in the east. That high degree of internationalization tends to obscure a very basic reality: To take part in the new global economy requires not only a social and political environment that encourages free enterprise, but also access to the tools and telecommunications, for which access to electricity is an absolute prerequisite. For that reason it undoubtedly comes as a surprise to many when they learn that in the world largest democracy and free market economy, India, an astounding 488 million people lack a connection to the national power grid. What is perhaps even more surprising, including for those familiar with that statistic, is that access to the electric power grid, once the most important measure of modernity, has ceased to be of great significance. As a consequence of improved decentralized electricity production technology, ruts in the level playing field of commerce are being smoothed. Power electronics has helped to create that new world, with control systems that make the existing grid more capable, and that increase the power production capabilities of off-grid systems. Power electronics has begun to play a significant role, indeed pivotal role, in brining power to the people in the most fundamental sense of the word. Part of the contribution of power electronics will be to improve the efficiency of traditional electrification systems. In addition, and this is a very recent development, power electronics will be crucial in bringing the benefits of electricity without the burden of electricity. This comparatively new role for power electronics results from three advances that are technically outside of the scope of power control. The first is the advent of more efficient photovoltaic devices and the perfection of manufacturing methods, which will further decrease costs. The second has to do with the emergence of so-called digital power, which among other things makes it possible to use carefully timed bursts of current to use smaller, more energy efficient motors. The third is the development of ultra-efficient personal electronics, in the form of solar and crank-powered cellular telephones, laptops and the use of light-emitting diodes for illumination. Earlier BCC Research studies have focused on the demand for power electronics components, and various other aspect of power electronics utilization, such as the impact of intelligent wireless microsystems. (See related reports, below.) In this study, BCC Research attempts to provide a look at both the metaphorical forest and its trees, with an examination of the overall shape of the industry in 2007, and 2008 through 2013 requirement forecasts at the component and applications levels. 
Power Electronics: Technologies and Global Markets has been written for those who need to better understand:
  • How power electronics components, devices and systems work. 
  • Factors that drive the power electronics markets,
  • Factors that limit the power electronics markets.
  • The dollar value requirement for key power electronics components.
  • The dollar value requirement application 
At the component level Power Electronics: Technologies and Global Markets forecasts the demand for power electronics devices that make use of one of four solid state technologies: 
  • Power diodes
  • Thyristors
  • Insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBTS) 
At the applications level Power Electronics: Technologies and Global Markets forecasts the demand for power electronics devices in 327 NAICS-defined end-user industries. (See list at the end of this section.)
BCC Research studied more than 250 companies and university-based electrical and electronics engineering programs to obtain data for this report. It also reviewed reports and studies prepared for peer-reviewed professional literature, and reports by the technical staffs of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, Energy Information Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, National Academy of Sciences, and National Science Foundation; their European counterparts, and the United Nations and the World Bank. Other data came from presentations at scientific and technical conferences. 
James Wilson is an established and widely read advanced technology analyst. The author of more than 300 articles and six books on science, medicine, technology, and business, he also has served as editor of the Princeton Business Journal and as senior science and technology editor for Hearst Magazines. 
A member of the National Association of Science Writers and the American Medical Writers Association, Wilson served on the adjunct faculty of Temple University and on the staffs of Drexel University and the Academy of Natural Sciences. He is the author of several BCC Research studies including:
  • HLC049A      Medical Device Coatings
  • MST027G     Controlled Release Technologies: Established and Emerging Markets
  • IASO22A      Remote Sensing Technologies and Global Markets
  • IFTO62A       Mobile Telematics Technologies and Markets
  • IFTO62B       The Mobile Telematics Handbook.
  • IFT064A        Intelligent Wireless Microsystems
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The author assumes no liability for the reported information or for its use. The developed information is intended to be as reliable as possible and of a professional nature. The author assumes no liability for any loss or damage as a result of any reliance on any materials or any information developed. This is not a legal or accounting document, and much of the information is of a speculative nature

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