Power Semiconductors: Made in Germany
Today’s challenge to support the world with clean green energy in the near future has brought wind- and solar power generation stronger into focus
Now, windmills have grown to output powers of several megawatts and solar arrays in an equally demanding power range have been set up throughout the world, relying on power semiconductors “made in Germany”.
Due to outstanding characteristics in efficiency, robustness and reliability accompanied by excellent support by skilled application engineers, Infineon Stack-Assemblies became the number one solution for power electronics in the renewable energy market. More than 500MW of power are installed in solar power systems; 2GW of installed power are exceeded in wind power generation – every year.
In essence, 75% of the windmills in the world run on Infineon power semiconductors and an equally high share of solar systems features “power by Infineon”.
Besides the main task – harvesting energy from wind – a windmill is a complex system with several auxiliary drives like the blade’s pitch controller. Here too, highly reliable power electronic systems need to be build to ensure the extraordinary life-time expectations. Despite the rough conditions the devices are subjected to – humidity, temperature swing, vibration and centrifugal forces along with maybe salty atmosphere – these safety relevant systems are mandatory parts to keep the windmill operational.
For most efficient energy transport from off-shore wind farms to the continent, high-voltage DC-lines (HVDC) are state of the art. This technology, also used for energy transfer from continental Europe to the United Kingdom, allows the transport of electricity with optimized use of resources as only a single line is used. At the same time, the DC-transfer is far more efficient than the AC approach.
Converting a wind farm’s cumulated power from AC to DC, transfer it to the continent and bring it back to AC is a classical task for power electronics. Though this is served with bipolar elements today, especially Infineon’s Light Triggered Thyristors (LTT), first IGBT-based converters have been commissioned lately.
It is safe to assume, that the integration of renewable energies of any kind, electric vehicles with their needed infrastructure and energy storage devices into the upcoming Smart Grids will mainly be driven by the developments in power electronic. As in the past, Infineon will stay the leading company in energy efficient technologies, enabling highest power densities and system miniaturization.