Ceramic Industry News / Advanced Ceramics / Market Trends / Raw and Processed Materials

Silicon Carbide to Offer Advantage in Solar Modules Market

July 10, 2013
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

Wide bandgap semiconductors—specifically, silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN)—are expected to lead the charge as the market for solar inverter discrete devices, driven by the downstream demand for solar modules, grows to $1.4 billion in 2020, according to Lux Research. That increase reflects a solid 7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), slightly lower than the 9% for all renewables and grid-based power electronics.

As devices featuring GaN and SiC hit the market, they’ll offer the biggest competitive advantage in small systems—microinverters and small string inverters for residential and commercial solar installations—with the proposition of lowering levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and increasing margins on electricity sold through leases and power purchase agreements. In addition, they are expected to deliver improved performance and reliability.

“The holy grail for solar inverters is the implementation of wide bandgap semiconductors, specifically, silicon carbide and gallium nitride,” said Pallavi Madakasira, analyst at Lux Research. “The performance benefits from both are such that inverter suppliers could charge a premium price and still achieve a significantly lower LCOE.”

To understand the performance benefits of switching to GaN and SiC, the analysts modeled the three major types of inverters (microinverters, string inverters and central inverters) with Si, SiC, and GaN components. Their findings included:

  • Higher efficiencies in smaller inverters. Power electronics with discrete devices made from GaN and SiC, rather than incumbent silicon, can increase efficiencies for solar micro- and string inverters to over 98%. The diodes increase harvested energy by more than 1.5% while the transistors can increase it by more than 4%. GaN-on-silicon reportedly offers the lowest cost solution, while GaN-on-SiC and SiC-on-SiC offer far superior efficiency.
  • Microinverters will command the highest premiums. SiC and GaN have the greatest price premium power (more than $0.10/Wp) in microinverters, without increasing LCOE. Though a niche solution, the microinverter segment is also an attractive segment for SiC and GaN to see early adoption and ramp up volumes.
  • Indirect benefits add to the value proposition. GaN and SiC also result in indirect cost savings in the form of a reduced failure rate of passive components, footprint reduction and savings in installation cost. Also, their superior thermal conductivity reduces the size of the heat sink in inverters.

For additional information, visit www.luxresearchinc.com.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Ceramic Industry Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

September 2014 Issue Highlights

Our September 2014 issue is now available!

Posted: December 15, 2014


Manufacturing Day 2014

Manufacturing Day organizers share their insights with Managing Editor Kelsey Seidler.

More Podcasts

Ceramic Industry Magazine

CI January 2015 cover

2015 January

It's our annual Materials Handbook issue, with the ever-popular "Raw & Manufactured Materials Overview" article! Check it out today.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Personal Smartphones

Do you use your personal smartphone or other device to complete tasks for your job?
View Results Poll Archive


M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\Ceramics Industry\handbook of advanced ceramics.gif
Handbook of Advanced Ceramics Machining

Ceramics, with their unique properties and diverse applications, hold the potential to revolutionize many industries, including automotive and semiconductors.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


facebook_40px twitter_40px  youtube_40pxlinkedin_40google+ icon 40px


CI Data Book July 2012

Ceramic Industry's Directories including Components, Equipment Digest, Services, Data Book & Buyers Guide, Materials Handbook and much more!