Engineering 101

SiC Power Industry: Ready For Take-Off?

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The adoption of SiC power devices is now undeniable. The power electronics industry has no more questions about it. Today, questions are more related to the companies and the playground: how and when they will make it?

Based on discussions with leading SiC players Yole Développement (Yole), System Plus Consulting and Knowmade, sees a prospering SiC power device market. The three companies are working together to get a comprehensive understanding of the SiC technologies, their evolution, the market segments and competitive landscape. Today’s reports, proposed by Yole Group of Companies are a smart combination of Yole, System Plus Consulting and Knowmade expertise.

“The SiC power semiconductor market’s value will approach US$2 billion by 2024,” said Hong Lin, PhD. Principal Analyst, Compound Semiconductor at Yole. “This market is showing an impressive 29% CAGR between 2018 and 2024. And, we announced last year, the automotive market is undoubtedly the foremost driver, with around 50% of total device market share in 2024.”

Which applications are driving SiC power device market? What are the technical challenges faced by SiC power devices? How will they impact the adoption? Who are the current innovators in SiC technologies for power electronics applications? Who will have the best IP position in the coming years? Here, Yole Group offers its vision of the industry and its evolution.

The primary market driver is automotive market, announces Yole in its SiC report. The total automotive market is expect to reach around US$1 billion in 2024, presenting 49% market share. SiC is already used in OBC and such application will be widely developed in the coming years.

“The 2018 – 2019 period is showing a strong shift for SiC adoption by the automotive industry for its main inverter application,” continued Lin. “With the implementation of SiC technology by Tesla, the market has reach the point of no return and discussions concerning whether other automotive players will also adopt (or not) is THE topic of the year.”

Following Tesla, BYD will release SiC invertor in small serial in 2019. Little by little, main inverter will begin to adopt SiC.

Recently, the automotive industry has committed more than $300bn investment towards xEV development, causing the xEV market to explode. This is in stark contrast to the traditional combustion engine car market, which is suffering through a slowdown. The xEV market is the primary market driver for Si power devices, and it is the source of excitement for SiC – which is not surprising at all.

Ranging from conservative to optimistic, industrial players offer very different forecasts in terms of market value for SiC in the xEV market. These forecasts range from several hundred million dollars to $3bn in 2025, the latter estimated by STMicroelectronics.

Reportedly, everyone agrees that EV is the market of highest potential, but perceptions differ regarding how it will grow and how SiC will penetrate into the automotive market. These perceptions are based on the data that each player has collected and the arguments that derive from their interpretation of the data.

Behind the adoption of SiC, Yole’s analysts also point out the packaging issue. Today, there are still limited number of automotive qualified module suppliers. According to Yole’s report, only STMicroelectronics and Danfoss have the ability to propose their expertise. Many challenges are still pending at this level of the SiC supply chain and Yole Group of Companies believes, full SiC module just started a long journey.

“Technical panorama of SiC Transistors devices is still varying. Concerning die design on the market we still can find different solution such as JFET and MOSFET and among the latest, trench and planar structures,” added Amine Allouche, Costing Analyst at System Plus Consulting. “Moreover in term of packaging, since the standard packaging is not yet optimized for SiC higher performances, new designs and material are continuously introduced. This leads to the entrance of new players, especially OSAT, in the packaging’ sector.”

The analysis will not be complete without a detailed study of the SiC patent landscape, confirming the leadership of Japanese companies on power SiC and an important penetration rate within the automotive industry.

Rémi Comyn, Technology & Patent Analyst from Knowmade, said: “In recent years we have seen major players such as GE, Toyota Motor and Rohm accelerating their IP activity in the field of SiC power devices.”

Knowmade’s report also points out the presence of new IP players such as Hestia Power in Taiwan developing a planar junction barrier Schottky (JBS) diode-integrated MOSFET technology, and more recently Danfoss focusing on full SiC power modules.

“Chinese companies have been very active as well lately with numerous newcomers such as CRRC Times Electric, SGCC and Century Goldray,” added Comyn.

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