Boston, Mass. – The power electronics market is forecast to reach $23 billion for discrete components in 2024, up from $13 billion today, according to Lux Research. Power electronics devices are used to convert and manage electricity in all types of electronic devices, ranging from mobile phones and tablets to pumps and motors.
The report, “Sizing-up the $23 Billion Discrete Power Electronics Market in 2024,” also reveals that tablet computers will fuel growth in the discrete power electronics market. Consumer electronics and IT will account for 48 percent of the market in 2024, or about $11 billion. Of this segment, consumer electronics will grow from $7 billion in 2014 to $10 billion in 2024, driven by growth of low-power tablets and mobile phones.
Although silicon-based devices hold the greatest technology market share at 87 percent, silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) are making inroads into the power electronics market. These SiC and GaN devices are expected to be the fastest-growing with 30 percent and 32 percent annual growth rates, respectively. However, these technologies will remain a small total share of the market with a combined market share of 13 percent in 2024, according to Lux Research.
The transportation sector is expected to drive the adoption of both SiC and GaN devices. Transportation uses will account for 65 percent of the total market for SiC and 41 percent of the total market for GaN. The transportation segment will reach nearly $1.2 billion in 2024, according to Lux Research. “As power demands in applications from consumer electronics to the power grid get more demanding, silicon is running up against physical limits, offering opportunities for both SiC and GaN,” said Pallavi Madakasira, Lux Research analyst and the lead author of the report, in a statement.
“GaN is a direct threat to silicon, as it can replace silicon in many applications, while SiC transistors can actually create additional new opportunities for silicon in high-voltage applications that will use SiC and silicon components together,” she added.
However, there are some drawbacks to the technologies today. Lux reports that SiC adoption is limited by pricing while GaN adoption is being held back by availability. “For SiC, high costs will make SiC transistors less viable in many applications, while GaN's adoption will be held back by delayed product roll-outs and capacity expansions,” according to the report.
A few leading semiconductor suppliers and technology innovators are working to bring more GaN devices to market so the industry can leverage the performance advantages of the technology. One of the latest announcements is a partnership between ON Semiconductor and power conversions specialist Transphorm. Under the partnership, the companies will co-develop and co-market GaN-based products and power system solutions for high-voltage applications in several sectors including industrial, computing, telecom and networking. Transphorm recently secured several fundamental patents in the area of GaN power conversion.
Distributors also are gearing up for SiC and GaN device growth. For example, Richardson RFPD launched at the end of 2013 its SiC Tech Hub micro website that focuses on all things related to SiC technology. Richardson RFPD, along with other distributors such as Digi-Key and Mouser Electronics, also continue to beef up their SiC and GaN device product portfolios to meet growing demand.