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New semiconductor materials will deliver significant energy savings

Part of Today in the Lab - Tomorrow in Energy?

Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy? shines a spotlight on research projects under development in the Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). Learn more about the initiative, read the launch commentary, or explore the TCPs.


What is the aim of this project?

This project aims to assess the energy efficiency potential and impact of the use of wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors and create awareness among policy makers of this technology.

How could this technology be explained to a high school student?

Most electronic applications use silicon-based power electronic circuits. WBG semiconductors enable power electronic components to be smaller, lighter, faster, more reliable and more energy efficient than silicon-based ones.

What is the value of this project for society?

  • informs policy makers so they can integrate WBG technology into power electronic systems, within the framework of sustainable energy policy
  • could save significant amounts of energy, such as 28 TWh/year in data centres, 10 TWh/year in solar photovoltaic (PV) inverters, and 35 TWh/year in wind power generators
  • develops application readiness maps for different WBG materials, such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN)
  • analyses different types of policy approaches for their likely relative merit, by examining markets and the industrial value chain.

At what stage of development is this project?

The project began with a successful introduction phase (2019-20), which has reviewed the efficiency potential of WBG and provided initial power device roadmaps for SiC and GaN. An industry advisory group and an academic advisory group have been set up to support the second phase (2020-24).

What government policies could bring this from the lab to the market?

  • tracking and supporting the development and establishment of industry standards
  • implementing voluntary policies that support the initial development of WBG applications.
  • signaling longer-term policy that may require higher efficiency in specific applications (without necessarily specifying WBG technology).

GaN-based DC/DC Converter. Credit: Markus Makoschitz, Austrian Institute of Technology


Industry partners

  • ABB
  • BLOCK Transformatoren-Elektronik
  • ECPE (association)
  • GaNSystems
  • Infineon
  • KSB SE & Co. KGaA
  • Power America Manufact. Institute
  • OnSemiconductor
  • ST Microelectronics
  • Wolfspeed

Academia & RTO partners

  • Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT)
  • Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Italy
  • ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Kyoto University of Advanced Science, Japan
  • North Carolina State University, United States
  • Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
  • University of Bath, United Kingdom
  • University of Technology Graz, Austria
  • Linköping University, Sweden
  • University of Warwick, United Kingdom

Funders

4E TCP member countries fund this project, specifically the governments of Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland.


About the Technology Collaboration Programme on Energy Efficient End-Use Equipment (4E TCP)

The 4E TCP promotes energy efficiency as the key to ensuring safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy systems. The 4E TCP provides policy guidance to its members and other governments concerning energy-using equipment and systems.

Contact: mark@energyellis.com.