Power electronics to grow to USD15 billion in 2020, predicts Lux Research

April 04, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
The power electronics market is poised to grow to account for $15 billion worth of sales of discrete components in four key industry segments in 2020, according to a report from Lux Research ’s new Energy Electronics Intelligence service.

The sector is moving beyond its historic dependence on silicon, with two new materials - silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) - taking a 22% market share for $3.3 billion in sales.

“There’s clearly a growing opportunity in power electronics, but the challenge for both current market players and would-be entrants is finding the places where these emerging technologies meet customer needs at the right price points,” said Pallavi Madakasira, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report entitled ‘Beyond Silicon: Plotting GaN and SiC’s Path within the $15 Billion Power Electronics Market ‘.

“While consumer electronics is a ‘here and now’ opportunity, fast-growing industries such as renewable energy and industrial power applications are likely to challenge power electronics manufacturers to innovate on form factor and improve efficiency at the lowest cost,” explained Madakasira.

 To forecast adoption of emerging power electronics technologies, Lux Research analysts calculated the payback period for SiC and GaN devices and calculated market shares based on the required payback period for each application, as well as delaying or accelerating factors that reflect industry conservatism, design cycles, timing for capacity build-outs, and other industry drivers.

Lux reports that SiC and GaN are vying for a slice of the silicon pie. With Si-based power electronic devices reaching theoretical limits, other semiconductors, notably SiC and GaN, are making inroads into the power electronics industry. The materials promise better performance and energy savings, and in SiC will gain a 14% market share and in GaN, an 8% share. SiC, with its better maturity and reliability, has a head start, but GaN catches up thanks to innovators such as Efficient Power Conversion and Transphorm and incumbents like International Rectifier.

SiC is gaining the most in renewables, capturing a 32% market share in solar, and is poised to capitalize on the grid storage boom. Its adoption in transportation is less aggressive, leading SiC and GaN to a relatively even