Power electronics for wind turbines announces market & technology report 2012

Large scale wind turbines: from conversion system to active and passive components down to material

44GW in 2011, every year beats the predictions, but it may not last…
In 2011, almost 44GW of wind energy has been installed in the world and half of it was in China. Each years’ results are greater than predictions, and it has been so for the last 10 years. But we envision a slow down in this growth, fully explained in this report: 22% annual growth is huge. Based on the history, we believe the market will stay between 15% and 20% growth until 2015. Compared to all other power electronics markets, this is still the biggest opportunity for this type of converters in power electronics.

There are other main trends at the macroscopic level:

– European on-shore market is now close to maturity. EU countries are now starting to conquer and equip their off-shore potential.
– Emerging markets (South America and Asia) are starting to equip themselves to feed their grid with green energy.

Turbine architecture is changing, and converters with them. We aim at greater efficiency and reducing O&M (operating and maintenance) costs. Permanent magnets, no-gearbox and full converters seems to be the ideal combination, if material costs stay stable.

Converters are also more demanding, and thus more power electronics is required: converter market is at $4.5B today, and will top +$5.5B in 2017.
The next five years are still on high growth, thanks to the technology evolutions detailed in this report.

What conclusions to draw then? Now worries about wind turbine market’s future. Up to 2015, opportunities will be there, but facing more competition and technical challenges, it will be harder for new players to enter this market.

“Integration and modularity” trend is redesigning the supply-chain

Converters manufacturing and supply-chain is in the middle of a major evolution: modularity and integration. Rather than supplying one passive components, we expect to see more and more companies to merge with partners, and provide a pre-assembled stack, where only the power module would be missing. You can then easily design and maintain a converter using and replacing these “bricks”. This type of assembly is more and more used in high power electronics. Companies such as Mersen, Methode electronics,… are positioning towards this new type of business model. This evolution is fully described in this report, highlighting the passive components, their importance in the converter, the future trends to come…

Chinese Players are now worldwide leaders!

China has protected its market: With the huge local growth, Chinese players are now leaders in wind turbine manufacturing and they are looking at expanding globally. In three years, the top-5 players ranking has been totally changed, and with the recent acquisitions (GE over Converteam) or affairs (AMSC against Sinovel), it will change again.

This report includes a focus on the Chinese market, with local market and players split, as well as future market trends.

Moving From DFIG to Full converter has a Large impact on passives

The supply-chain is moving, and you will get the tools to understand this evolution in this report: With the integration trend, we will see more and more companies manufacturing or supplying several passives at a time, assembled together, to gain in added value. The components are to be pre-assembled in stacks, and the final integrator will choose the power switch.

Laminated busbars are fully part of this integration trend as they connect all these components together. Mersen announced recently the acquisition of Eldre, third player of the busbar market. On the other hand, Chinese players such as Eagtop, or CSR are gaining in experience of laminated busbar manufacturing. Globally, the market is on growth trend reaching $44M in 2017, following the need of higher power converters.

According to most players, the capacitor market is not expecting a technical breakthrough, but footprint and integration skills will give advantage to the players who mastered it. The polypropylene film shortage is now over, and the market is not as tense as it used to be.

The resistor market is suffering from the move to full converter design. The design of grid fault protection systems requires less very high power resistors, and thus, the crowbar resistor market will diminish by 7% in the 2010-2017 period. DC link chopper is using the same technology and the move will fuel this 16% growth market.

Globally, technical evolutions have very high impact on passive components market. But these impacts, detailed in this report, are very different from one to the other.

Silicon carbide will come starting 2015: Meanwhile, power module improvements will be at packaging level

IGBT is the device best fitting the wind converters, either in power modules or stackpacks. Converter manufacturers are waiting for the availability of Si/SiC hybrid and full SiC modules. But when we look at today’s situation for 1200V discrete devices, the lack of reliability, and volume production at reasonable cost will make the wind market wait before SiC introduction, as explained in the roadmaps as well the semiconductor dies and materials market forecast of this report.

Packaging is evolving. Innovations are targeting all high power conversion markets, and they will bring better performance:

– Infineon is bringing copper into the module, for die attach and connections
– Semikron keep bringing silver into the modules, with sintering method.

First analysis from this report shows that copper is the next standard as it will be used by most players, even if Semikron’s sintering can target +30% market share.


Wind turbine’s global market trends
– 2011 Worldwide installations shares, and trends with 2017 market forecast
– 2010 Players position and forecasted evolution for 2011 and 2012

Wind converters market
– Architecture analysis including:
– DFIG vs. full converter, technical analysis and market forecast
– On-shore vs. Off-shore comparison
– Turbine size trend

Wind converters components
– Converters architectures, players, market forecast and supply-chain analysis
– Devices technology, markets and players:
– IGBT and IGCT devices and stacks
– Capacitors, resistors, connectors and laminated busbars


Wind converter manufacturers…
– Understand the supply-chain evolution and the coming technologies
– Make the right partnerships with the right companies, and gain a strategic advantage
– Understand your new market and plan your business expansion

Power inverter manufacturers…
– Understand the supply-chain evolution and anticipate on new technologies
– Benchmark your company regarding the market evolutions
– Elaborate the opportunities to penetrate or gain share in this high growth market

Power electronics players: material, equipment, device and module market players
– Get the full picture and benchmark competitors and partners solutions
– Understand the value-chain and anticipate its evolutions
– Make the right decisions and position yourself in tough market