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Foresighting report: power electronics


This study maps out and reviews development trends in the power electronics market with the purpose of identifying future opportunities for new technology development, which ITI Energy could seek to invest in.


The study was conducted in two phases. The first phase consisted of a comprehensive review of technical literature, market reports and website information. This was then followed up by a series of interviews performed in person or by telephone using a checklist questionnaire resulting from the first stage. The interviews also focused on reinforcing or debunking a number of hypotheses that resulted from the first stage. At the end of each stage workshops were held with ITI Energy staff to discuss and review the findings.


The findings indicate that significant change within the industry is imminent in light of emerging semiconductor technologies. Pressure to adopt new technologies is also growing due to an increasing market demand for solutions that yield better efficiency and support a sustainable energy future. The power electronics market is worth $130 billion per annum and it will be of increasing importance to the electronics markets, which is greater than $1 trillion. Despite this, however, power electronics is not yet widespread in applications for power generation, transmission and larger scale utilisation of energy due to various social, economic and technical issues such as high costs and technological limitations. Virtually all power electronics devices to date are made of Silicon, the use of which is now being pushed to its theoretical limitations although there remains continuing scope for innovation. Other materials are now entering the market at scale which have both strengths and weaknesses such as high costs. Key areas of potential technology development were identified as: hybrid semiconductors; wide bandgap semiconductors; grid connection electronics; novel device packaging and cooling technologies; and open source architectures. On considering these technology development opportunities, two broad areas with considerable opportunity for new technology development in Scotland were identified: smart silicon hybrid devices and new material devices with characteristics that go beyond what silicon devices can achieve.


There were no recommendations as this was not within the remit of the report.

Author ITI Energy
Published Year 2010
Report Type Research
  • Business infrastructure
    Supporting key sectors
  • Sectors
    Digital markets and enabling technologies, Energy