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The Power of Power Electronics

By Posted on September 2, 2014
Blog

From the next great cell phone to the latest electric vehicle announcement, as new technologies are introduced, more devices are required to control and convert power to ensure their compatibility with other systems. This is the function of power electronics. With the rapid growth of technology in renewables, vehicle electrification and energy efficiency, power electronics are key to ensuring the compatibility, synergy and safety of these systems. As a result, the power electronics industry is projected to double in value within the next decade.

Unfortunately, the domestic power electronics ecosystem in the United States is heavily fragmented and at risk of falling behind global competitors in this innovation race. To address this concern, NextEnergy, in partnership with the Power Electronics Industry Collaborative (PEIC), has been awarded a grant from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) to develop a roadmap for strengthening the domestic power electronics ecosystem. For those of you working in the power electronics industry as a business, university, researcher or student, this project affords you the opportunity to connect with us to help shape the national policy agenda for power electronics, expand your industry network and better understand the aggregate technological and market trends in this space.

In many ways, this project is a natural continuation of our previous work in power electronics. In 2012, NextEnergy, with the help of our industry and government partners, identified a clear gap in the US power electronics industry. Though the US was a leader in research and development, and home to many of the companies that rely on power electronics to build their final products, we were lagging behind global competitors in the manufacturing of materials and components.

To address this concern, NextEnergy joined with several companies, including GM, Infineon, Magna and Delphi to help launch PEIC. We then conducted a value chain analysis of the industry, which we presented at the U.S. Wide Bandgap Competitiveness Power Electronics Industry Event, hosted at NextEnergy in March 2013. We used our insights from the event to develop the Post Workshop Report, which consisted of a SWOT analysis of the industry and recommendations to support technology development, market growth, and investments in domestic R&D, manufacturing and workforce development. This background gives us a unique advantage and robust foundation to successfully undertake this project.

With this project, we hope to provide our partners with a comprehensive overview of the industry’s power electronics supply and value chains. This will allow us to establish domestic collaboration through market intelligence and networking; provide national authorities with useful information for developing future priorities and strategies; and to ultimately enhance long-term US economic competitiveness. In an increasingly technological and connected world, power electronics will be the lifeblood for a diverse range of industries. With power conversion being a key element to many products and markets, establishing a clear and concrete plan to efficiently allocate American resources and establish the US as a global leader in this field is vital to sustaining our position as a hub for advanced technological innovation. For more information about our work in power electronics, contact Dan Radomski (danr@nextenergy.org), Dave Hurst (daveh@nextenergy.org) or Swad Komanduri (swadk@nextenergy.org).

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