LONDON – The Neuland project, part funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), has been set up to explore the efficient use of electricity from renewable sources based on exotic semiconductor materials.
The project, led by Infineon Technologies AG, will run until mid-2013 and receive 2.47 million euro (about $3.3 million) from the BMBF, or about 52.6 percent of the total budget of 4.7 million euro (about $6.25 million). The project brings six companies with expertise in silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN). Aixtron is a provider of equipment for the semiconductor industry, and the SiCrystal and Azzurro are present as wafer manufacturers. The semiconductor device know-how will be supplied by MicroGaN and Infineon, and the experience in systems engineering for photovoltaic applications will come from SMA Solar Technology.
The project aims to reduce the losses in photovoltaic inverters, by as much as 50 percent, by developing semiconductor devices based on SiC and gallium nitride on silicon (GaN-on-Si).
The same devices are also expected to be suitable for use in the future in switched-mode power supplies for desktop and laptop PCs, for flat-screen TVs, servers and telecommunication systems with a view to likewise reducing energy losses in these applications by about half.
Silicon carbide is used in components such as Schottky diodes. The Neuland research is expected to reveal applications for which GaN devices live up to or outperform present SiC devices in terms of reliability, ease of use and cost.
I am interested to know what percentage of the total lost energy is contributed by the loss in the photovoltaic inverters?
Great suggestion by DrQuine! Where there is a scope of using alternative source of energy, it would be more efficient to switch to DC powered utilities.
That's great news. SiC switches quickly, which promises to lower switching losses (high V across a half-turned-on device = many W). A higher operating frequency will also lead to smaller magnetics, smaller filter caps, etc. And ultimately, lower costs to consumers.
An alternative approach is to eliminate conversion costs by using DC power directly. NexTek (www.nextekpower.com), for instance, sees opportunities for DC powered systems to return to common use as the logical next step in the evolution of electrical power.
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