The future belongs to renewable energies

Solar panels produce the most electricity during the day when people are often not at home. When they return to their homes, the sun is about to set. Demand and supply are not in sync, which poses a basic problem for energy gained from the sun. Other renewable energies such as wind face similar challenges. The question is: How can we get higher performance with less energy losses? Technical solutions based on semiconductors are needed to solve these challenges by making energy storage in batteries more efficient and generally optimizing the whole system of balancing demand and the actual supply of solar and wind energy.

Getting more out of sun and wind

Making renewable energy generation more efficient is a paramount task in global plans to reduce CO2 emissions and increase energy efficiency in total. Wind and solar energy in particular have a considerable share in our efforts to protect the climate. Naturally renewable and with an unlimited supply – both sources are needed to meet the world’s growing demand and help reduce carbon emissions at the same time.

There has been a huge rise in solar, wind and other renewable energies in recent years. Meanwhile, renewable energies have even reached cost parity with fossil fuels, granting them a key role in the ambition to make the world greener. Right from the start, semiconductors have been essential for making renewables more and more efficient and thus commercially profitable. And: Renewable energies also are a crucial factor in the zero emissions goal of electric mobility.

 

Efficient wind power needs optimal system solutions

In wind turbines, power semiconductors convert electricity and couple the generator to the grid. A wind power converter in a wind turbine controls several essential functions apart from transferring power and therefore requires power semiconductors of the highest quality. Wind turbine designs have to provide maximum availability to contribute to grid stability. Grid stability, therefore, depends on power semiconductor devices that offer dynamic capabilities, excellent functionality, and superior reliability.

Infineon’s power module, the PrimePACKTM, supports a wide range of activities in the wind turbine nacelle during efficient wind power generation: feeding the generated electricity into the grid, ensuring grid stability, aligning the wind turbine and the rotor blades with the wind, protecting the wind turbine from overheating or freezing and shutting down the wind turbine in an emergency.

Application site: Power converters and inverters for wind turbines

More information on wind: Whitepaper and application presentation

Innovative wind power converters at optimized cost

The PrimePACK™ IGBT5 with .XT Interconnection Technology in 1700 V is the leading product in the wind market for the coming years offering best-in-class power cycling capability, leading to a longer lifetime. PrimePACK™ 3+ is a state-of-the-art power module package ideally suited to wind applications. PrimePACK™ 3+ housing enables increased current-carrying capabilities together with EiceDRIVER™ isolated gate drivers for wind power converters. In addition to IGBT5 .XT there are also EconoDUAL™ and EconoPACK™+ with IGBT4 chip technology together with EiceDRIVER™ isolated gate drivers for wind power converters.

Explore our portfolio for wind applications

Solutions for efficient solar energy

Photovoltaic systems provide a very modular way to install a power generating unit – from a single household to the plant level. But as with wind, the use of solar energy entails the major challenge of balancing supply and demand. Depending on weather conditions, the power supplied by photovoltaic (PV) modules fluctuates heavily. That’s why the efficient combination of solar panels and energy storage systems with the help of semiconductor technologies is one effective way of synchronizing supply and demand.

Another technical challenge: Solar modules supply power in the form of direct current (DC), which has to be converted to alternating current (AC) before you can feed it into the grid, use it or transmit it to the point of use. Power semiconductors and solar inverter technologies need to convert DC to AC and transmit the power with minimal losses.

Depending on the exact point at which the inverters are used, e.g. at the PV cell or in the battery, these inverters are categorized as micro-inverters, power optimizers, string inverters or central inverters. For example, batteries need a constant voltage level for charging. That means the voltage of the solar module has to be lowered or raised without losing energy. Special microchips work like a switch in this case, providing the battery with just the right voltage.

Application site: Solutions for solar energy systems

More information on solar: Whitepaper and application presentation

 

 

Broad portfolio for solar applications

The Infineon portfolio comprises a broad selection of inverters ranging from just a few watts and kilowatts for residential use to several megawatts for the commercial and utility-scale markets. It includes best-in-class discrete OptiMOS™, CoolMOS™  and CoolSiC™ MOSFETs and IGBTs as well as highly integrated 3-level Easy 1B/2B modules, functionally integrated EiceDRIVER™ gate driver ICs and XMC™ microcontrollers. Backed by our end-to-end application expertise, we offer chip combinations to achieve leading power density levels and best-in-class efficiency.

Explore our portfolio for solar applications

Explore how to increase energy efficiency in other use cases