The future of power electronics with Frede Blaabjerg

Show notes

Decentralized power generation through renewable energies, especially photovoltaic and wind energy, is on the rise worldwide. What are the next tasks for a success? Listen to Frede sharing his thoughts on the role of hydrogen as a future energy carrier and the main challenges correlating with this development. Marco and Frede provide answers on how to manage a successful energy transition considering a decrease in energy consumption, particularly in industrial applications. They talk about silicon carbide semiconductors in electric vehicles that promise higher efficiency, but also higher costs in comparison to Si-IGBTs. Where is the journey going?

Show transcript

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https: Sound on power on your power electronics podcast, powered by PCIM Europe. Hello everybody and welcome to the first episode of sound on power on your power electronics podcast. Powered by PCIM Europe. Hello everybody. My name is Mako Jung. I'm a professor for E-mobility and electrical infrastructure.

https: At the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg university of applied science at Sankt Augustin. As well as a head of department converter and drive technology at the fraunhofer Institute for energy economics and energy system technology at Kassel for your information, both are located in Germany and today in our first podcast our technical theme is a future trends in power electronics.

https: And this, I will discuss with professor Frede Blaabjerg from the all work university. Freede has been has been a full professor of power, electronics and drive since 1998. He went through various positions in industry university and at IEEE Hi Freede a very warm welcome from my side. How are you? Hi Marco. Yeah, I think I'm fine.

https: In your CV. I have seen you have done a really. Hart staff who have published more than 600 journals. And for me, it's really interesting. And I think for our people who hearing this podcast which publication is for you the most important in your life, what you have done or which content is this publication?

https: A good quetsion well, I think that the, the number of publication is, lets say a result of years of collaboration with many researchers, both here at Aalborg, but also around the world. And, as well as the industry, because we work a lot together with the industry like you also do in Germany. But if I should highlight my main contributions in terms of research and innovation, I will say, this is the integration of renewability interface to the reneweble.

https: And we have some publications where we have come up with a methods to synchronise and operate in, into the grid system, which I can see is applied a lot, both in universities, but, also in industry today. And is the platform for let's say the integration of renewables.

https: Sounds really great. I have. done serveral publications and yeah, the last 10 years we serached to in this, fields with power electronics, for photovoltaiks and so on. But what technology innovaiton you have done in the reason years made the most impact on your life. My life, I would not say my publication make a such impact on live, but for me, it's I have had for, my career, the principle that the things I do with people if it is not disclosed by our collaborating partners I would prefer to publish. So, that means it's achieved for the whole world. And this is seem from my perspective, my contribution to, yeah, to be a part of the technology. So I would say when I see a solutions which can be used or methods, which can be used to make the power electronics, technology, and application more smart, more cheap.

https: Yeah. More, easy to apply. Then I think, I feel happy with the contributor. Okay. Cool. That sounds really nice. So I think, let us go a little bit forward to our content from today's talk and I think we have many big drivers in power electronics seen in the last 20 years, let's say so not only climate change and definiteness of fossil fuels are still drivers for power electronics.

https: I think a lot other topics and that we will discuss a little bit in the further let's say a minutes. So, and a decent last power generation. Yeah. It's PV and wind energy. We still see has rising on the whole world and I was not only in Germany, not only Denmark, Europe on the whole world. And for me, it's really important to know and a seeing for the whole community, what are the next tasks for success and what needs to be done in this case?

https: Yeah, up to this interview. I was thinking if we look at how the energy system is going to be transformed in the next years, decades to come, I think we can characterize this in that way that if we look at how the energy mixture is today, this is way much more a fossil fuel based, the electrical part is not so much the carrier and the market, but when we are looking into, let's say 10, 20, 50, or something like that, we have totally transformed the rules in terms of energy.

https: And by that, I mean, we will see much, much more electricity, be the energy to be traded. And for me, this is a very big transformation. So we are able to make the world much more sustainable. And when we talk about, let's say the electricity today is covering 30% of the whole energy consumption and it's coming from there.

https: Then I think we are looking into 60, 70% of all energy will be electrical based and seeing from a technology perspective, in order to do the interfacing, both at the load side at a, at a production side, the power electronics, which we have working with both it's really the technology, which makes things happening and which is able to.

https: Let's say both to harvest as smallest entity, as possible to utilize the energy as efficient as possible. And then of course also to do the interfacing. So we all the time have the energy available on demand. So if a Edison will see he would be amazed about what impact he, yeah, of course, together with a lot of other way more. Scientists in, let's say late 1800 or something like that and in the beginning of the 1900 and being a part of this transformation and have been a part of that in the last 25 years has been professor here at Alba university. Just to have contributed very little to the, to the big transformation.

https: This is fantastic to see. And I think looking at what we can do today with the power electronics technology. We are able to make this transformation, but of course, a lot of challenges are in front of us. But I think both with innovation and with fundamental better things we are really able to create that society. We are looking into.

https: Great. I think so. If you speak about generators it's correct. And now a new hype, let's say we have now in yeah storage system, hydrogen. I see a lot of big things in the whole world. Still a lot of countries still have, still looking about how the can produce really big scales hydrogen.

https: Only is a further component for more secure and reliable energy supply. What are here's the main challenge is what you are still thinking about? Because I think we need a lot of mass hydrogen. Yeah. Only, not only in Europe, it's the whole world as a additional component for our reliable.

https: I also see that. And if I should say a way shortz answer, but that's not what you're interested in, but I think the big challenge is efficiency. And so in my opinion, with the hydrogen society, compared with, for example, full electrical society. So the transformation to go from electricity, to hydrogen, to something else where we apply it in a process, the efficiency in my opinion is far too low.

https: Of course, if you are. If you are a producer of DNOs and capacity, then it's a good idea that the efficiency is maybe only a 20 or 30%, because then they need more generation. Right. And on the other side to the the companies who work with hydrogen based carriers today. Also there is a, it's a marketplace, but there's no doubt we cannot avoid.

https: It's a power to X for many applications because they are applications where we have energy intensive things like airplanes and maybe ships and so on. And I think it's a. As the analyzers are it makes sense to look at big plants because the investment is so huge and the chemical process as after the electricity as the scale is important.

https: So in that sense that we see a huge amount of investment in this field. I think this, is wise to do, but, I if we need efficiency up much more than we have today to, and thereby also the cost down and then naturally we should all the time also think about, okay, the electrical system. Can we do something there and still keep it the high efficiency we have there.

https: Okay. And that leads me now in the other questions, because efficiency, right. That's a really, I think a big issue and I think the power electronics. Yeah. We have new devices we can use, for example, for the rectifier systems, IGBT Silicon carbide MOSFET, maybe in the future. Okay. Let's say, okay, let's a future future, future trend maybe gallium nitride.

https: But for me, it's really important if I have rectifiers for electrolyzers. Up to, now that I know they only can have a cosine, let's say only one that was all, they don't provide reactive power and so on. And we have seen it for wind powerful, low or PV power. So for the grid integration, yes, they must provide system services.

https: And for me, it's the question is now. Do we need further system services to have a big stable system, as well as maybe electrolyte, can provide system services as a future. If you use new typologies, new power, electronics, semiconductors what is your opinion in this case? Yeah, it's a, it's a good point. I forgot to say the electrolyze needs powertrains, but it's almost standard that we need power electronics this area.

https: And and we need technology for, doing this. But doing the process of electrolyzers seen from a power electronics perspective I think this we can do as we have also other applications, melters and, and so on where it fundamentally also this leads power level where we're, where we see that.

https: But of course we need to achieve as high efficiency as possible because all losses We can not get any hydrogen out of it. So of course we have to look at our policies in respect to a system services in the, in the grid. Absolutely. It would be obvious that we are looking at system services.

https: If the grid will be fully the interface to the eletrolyzer plants, if we can say so As we will be able to do SIS system services at least seen from a power load perspective, in my opinion, as a direct to power whatsoever is needed and feed power the opposite way. I don't think this will be the case, but at least direct your power.

https: Can maybe be supplied if needed and things would be dependent on the cost. But what I think we will see also when we are discussing those big power plants, if we can say so, is that we will have production close to the. Production of hydrogen and the processes behind that, we would have that close to places where also the energy is produced.

https: So we could imagine that hydrogen and the products after are closed. For example, too way, big wind farms and so. It could be located in places where we have big PV plants in locations where the sun is is way intense south Europe, Africa, middle east, what soever Australia, and so on. And then we are not need necessarily to have a lots investment in the grid in order to do the transportation of power. So we will see a different solution. And I, but I think the scale is important in order to make this efficient, as a really high power scale because the investment behind that is very expensive.

https: I think so we will see different solutions and the truth. I think it's in the middle.

https: Let's say we have a thing, some transportation from Australia by shipping, or we have some production in Germany, in Denmark. It's an nothern pipelines. I think we will see everything in the future. And I'm really interested yeah. Which concept let's say will win the race. It's I think it's will be a mixed.

https: As you mean a hydrogen electricity. And I, I totally agree. We have to demonstrate our smartness in being able to ma make a mixture of thermal energy, electrical energy and and then of course the more hydrogen based energy in order to the energy system running and, maybe also some, kind of other stories technologies to because we also have water different ways also to store in a large-scale energy

https: Great so in our last, let's say. 10, 15 minutes. We have the discussion you have spoken about energy efficiency. You have spoken about grid services. PV wind in a grid integration andlet us have a focus, more in the industrial application part. I think there we have a big possibility to reduce energy consumption.

https: Because to introduce more and more power electronics. And do you see here some trends on the world market or in the scientific.

https: We can say every watt or jule we are saving at the end. We, we saved more on the production side. So dependent on the price of cost of energy. We will ofcourse see incentives to to reduce the energy consumption.

https: But if I look at, let's say applications in industry, the power electronics has demonstrated its value to save energy by being introduced in automation, because all things today are variable speed. Right? Also processes where you need heat and to maybe combine it with heat pumps to to get energy.

https: Maybe we will see this more introduced combined with power electronics control flow pumps, and also to control the electrical power in case that we need to process minerals, metals, and so on and do this in an efficient way, maybe a higher frequency. And so I think if we can say. Yeah, mega trends also the ability to take over the newest technology in order to have the highest efficiency in the process, this will continue to go on. And the companies who are providing those let's say components to be able to do that. I think they will all the time be able to provide a product, which are the highest end in terms of providing the services needed.

https: So you speak about a product let's say, and the components. And I think for power electronics is a power semiconductor is really most important component to, to convert let's say, from DC to AC or AC to DC or DC to DC. And in the reason why in the last 10, 15 years, as a user of Silicon carbide semiconductors in electric vehicles, promise higher efficiency now for this, but also costs in comparison of Silicon IGBTS

https: Can you give us a little bit more look inside where the journey is going on in this?

https: Yeah, I think seeing in the power electronic history perspective, what has really been driving. The power electronics and its application. This has been the devices. So thanks to all the people who have been innovative in making the devices.

https: So circuit people like us we can we can increase the performance and efficiency. So we rely a lot on those smart researchers and industry who are able to do this. And many years ago, people could use. That a white band gap devices had a great potential, but they were also decades where industry where we really a challenge in order to make it happen.

https: But if alternate, today we are standing with, let's say a way strong ecosystem in new innovations, both in terms of Silicon carbide technology, as well as galeon natriode. And we see already applications of Silicon carbide also in EV's right. Maybe it's a little bit more expensive, but the efficiency is a little bit higher and you'll get more out of, for example, the storage you have in the system.

https: So if I'm looking into the future, I'm a hundred percent convinced that a white band gap devices will be playing a dominant role in the years to come the implementation in terms of the different technologies circuits we know this will depend on the prices like you are saying, but the market is there in my opinion.

https: So it's more a matter of time before there are enough manufacturing because the manufacturing is also often a bottleneck as making the devices. We need a lot of investment and so on. So I would say. The growth in Silicon carbide technology and galeon natriode, technology this will be used in the next years to come and spend the next decade.

https: No doubt about that. And we will see that in more and more applications. Definitely.

https: Yeah. I'm sure. I think I see a as maybe an idea to yeah, I think it, it can help us to reduce material and safe. So costs, let's say overall costs system costs. But all, yes. I think Silicon carbide material in the future will be more expensive as in Silicon based semiconductors, but maybe let's say the overall material reduces uses, for example, in inductors materials, cooling materials.

https: So I think we have the possibility to have a higher power then. Can you say maybe what are the still drivers in this case is all electric vehicles or it's photovoltaics for, to, increase the power density and.

https: Yeah, it's a good point. You are racing there. I've should, of course I've mentioned there.

https: One is the components themselves but it's a system they are becoming integrated and so is system solution center. And it's totally right. That a lot of material can be saved if we can increase the efficiency and to reduce the need for cooling passive components and so on. And to. What I would also maybe mention that is the as a, when we talk about a sustainable world and so on in many countries and also in EU, they become also high attention and awareness to look at the sustainability of the products from fundamentally, until you manufacture a product, you have to also have a plan in order to be able to lay down the product again and reuse the material. So if we are able to save a material, Because of the white bank technology, then there are also less to be taken care of at the end.

https: And that will also be an incentive to really squeeze a size. I see. Absolutely. Let's say the white bank app devices coming into EVs because of weight and volume. I see. In, in PV. Yes. That, that Do the filtering a little bit less, but also if efficiency could be higher, then you also get more entity yield out of the operation.

https: But I also see it for example, in the application of peak computer centers because there you need a lot of power supplies to. To power, the it houses and so on and wake bank act, devices will also a bit use the losses and we can have, have more installed in, in the same area and get more out of it.

https: So I'm, I'm very optimistic in new technology and thanks to the people who have been able to, to make it happen. I think this people needs our requirements that they can yeah. Yeah, develop the correct products to

https: . If you compare a little bit now I have been many years in this area. And so I remember in the old times, the ITBT, this was unreliable in the beginning.

https: We could easily make it not working if we can say so. So but and people were saying, ah, this is maybe not good. And I think this is the same. We see the white bank at devices that Yeah, it was more expensive in the past, but it comes down. And then when we look at the system at advantages is this, this would be an obvious choice in in the heart where we we are developing.

https: So, so it's really exciting. And it also needs new skills for people I say, in order to be able to integrate it into the into the products when we do the design, because we operating at a fundamentally 10 times faster switching frequencies. There are new skills we need to have in order to master it 100%

https: I think so. So I think it's a future. Our jobs are safe because we have to do a lot of things for the whole transformation. Okay. Freede thank you for your statements. It was really blessed for me to have a discussion with you and I hope we can see us together. It's a PCIM , in may. Thank you. Thank you very much.

https: Thanks for listening. We hope you enjoyed our conversation and gained some valuable insights. Make sure to subscribe to the podcast. No available, on Spotify, Google and co in case you'd like to hear about specific topic or have a particular guest on your mind, let us know via mail to until then have a great.

https: We hope you enjoyed this edition of sound on power on powered by PCIM Europe, do subscribe and share.

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