Through either the adoption or expansion of technologies, many power electronics markets are expected to grow and undergo further development in 2018 and beyond. In fact, the technologies that have started to trend this year will continue to do so—especially technologies to combat greenhouse gas emissions in the automotive and alternative energy markets. Of course, power electronics investment also will come from the Internet of Things (IoT), energy storage, wide-bandgap materials, and wireless charging, as detailed below:
Electrification of Vehicles
2017 was a good year for electric vehicles and the future of this market looks very promising. Just a few weeks ago, 12 countries around the globe had set goals to end sales of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles starting in 2040. This action will accelerate the growth of sales on hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles, directly increasing the demand for automotive power-semiconductor devices. Power electronics is no longer just concerned with heating a cooling system in cars. Nowadays, it involves systems like on-board charging, battery management systems, infotainment, electric motors, etc. The adoption of electric vehicles in 2018 will lead to an increase in technology developments and competition and a reduction of costs for automotive semiconductor technologies.
Even Lamborghini is getting on board the electric vehicle bandwagon with its Terzo Millennio electric super sports concept car.
In 2017, we saw how wireless charging technology has been adopted by many consumer electronic devices. Apple was the latest company to add the technology to its iPhone X. But wireless charging is not just for smartphones; we have seen the benefits in harvesting systems, too. The automotive industry has also started to adopt the technology. Some luxury automotive makers had incorporated in-car wireless charging systems for electronic gadgets. In the future, we might be able to wirelessly charge an electric vehicle while driving it.
There are still many challenges ahead (e.g., standardization, safety, and skepticism). But many automotive suppliers and semiconductor companies are recognizing the advantages that this technology can offer. They will keep working together to develop better solutions. Further developments in fast charging and freedom of alignment will make possible an increase in adoption of automotive wireless charging technology.
Apple introduced wireless charging in its new iPhone in 2017, opening the floodgates for more wireless charging innovations from a wide range of manufacturers and developers in 2018.
Wide-bandgap semiconductor materials like gallium nitride (GaN) and silicon carbide (SiC) are anticipated to be used in many more applications in 2018. At the moment, the number of applications for those materials is steadily increasing in the automotive and military industry. We will continue to see this trend. In the automotive market in particular, expect to see more adoption of SiC and GaN materials due to their efficient performance under high temperatures and power. We also will see more applications using wide-bandgap materials in on-board chargers (OBCs), dc-dc converters, bidirectional inverters, and dc-ac inverters. Even though the adoption of GaN and SiC is rising, however, expect to see them coexisting with silicon across markets for a long time. Each of those three material choices might perform better, depending on the application and budget restrictions.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the global energy-storage market will double six times between 2016 and 2030, rising to a total of 125 G/305 gigawatt-hours. In 2018, energy-storage systems will continue proliferating to provide backup power to the electric grid. We will continue to see more projects integrating energy storage and renewable energy solutions. The demand on energy storage is also increasing the use of smart grids around the world. 2018 will see a rise in the production of lithium-batteries, due to the creation and expansion of battery cell factories. Supercapacitors have found a niche in the automotive market with start-stop technologies. Their adoption will continue in other sectors in the renewable energy market (e.g., wind turbine applications).
All IoT devices require semiconductors, such as microcontrollers and sensors, to perform their tasks. IC Insights expects sales for IoT system to reach $31.1 billion in 2020. IoT has touched many industries, but in the next years will see the increasing use of smart farming technologies. In fact, IoT device installations in the agriculture world are projected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent.
The power-electronics market is expected to be valued at USD $41.73 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 2.4% between 2016 and 2022 according to markets&markets. It cites the principal factors driving this growth as the following: increasing demand for energy-efficient, battery-powered portable electronic gadgets; the rising trend of wireless charging technologies; the development of new and advanced defense technologies; and the growing focus toward using renewable power sources. Watch for all of these technologies and applications to evolve and improve continuously for the foreseeable future.