New Industry Products

Next-Gen IGBTs Offer Efficiency for Solar Inverters, Storage, Motors

June 11, 2024 by Kevin Clemens

Onsemi’s 7th generation IGBT modules simplify design and reduce costs in high-power applications. Onsemi spoke with EEPower about the products unveiled at PCIM 2024 in Germany.

Semiconductor giant onsemi has unveiled its 7th generation 1200 V QDual3 Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) power modules. Introduced at the 2024 Power Conversion and Intelligent Motion (PCIM) conference in Nuremberg, Germany, these modules promise significant advancements in power density, output power, and efficiency, contributing to reduced system costs and simpler designs. 

Leveraging the latest Field Stop 7 (FS7) IGBT technology, the QDual3 module delivers up to 10% more power than comparable products without additional heat or design modifications. These modules are tailored for demanding applications, making them ideal for central inverters in solar farms, energy storage systems (ESS), commercial agricultural vehicles, and industrial motor drives. 

 

IGBT modules.

IGBT modules. Image used courtesy of onsemi

 

What Are IGBTs?

IGBTs are semiconductor devices used to switch and amplify electrical power in various applications. They combine the advantages of MOSFETs (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors) and BJTs (bipolar junction transistors) to provide efficient and fast switching capabilities for high-voltage and high-current applications.

IGBTs’ key advantages include handling high voltages and currents, fast switching speeds, low conduction losses, and voltage-controlled operation with high input impedance. These make them suitable for power electronics applications requiring efficient and precise electrical power control.

 

More Power, Same Footprint

Renewable energy’s growing adoption necessitates solutions to manage peak demand and ensure a continuous power supply. Peak shaving—reducing electricity use during peak hours—is crucial for maintaining grid stability and cutting costs. Here, onsemi's QDual3 modules enable manufacturers to build solar and ESS systems that produce more power within the same footprint, enhancing energy management and storage efficiency. This capability facilitates a smoother integration of solar power into the grid by storing excess power in ESS, ensuring a reliable energy flow despite solar generation’s intermittency.

 

How solar plus storage systems work

How solar plus storage systems work. Image used courtesy of National Renewable Energy Laboratory

 

Utility-scale solar photovoltaic farms are particularly advantageous due to their efficiency, scalability, and lower startup and generation costs than fossil fuel plants. Even with added energy storage, solar power production remains cost-effective. The QDual3 modules, when paralleled, can significantly increase output power up to several megawatts. Compared to traditional 600 A modules, the 800 A QDual3 modules reduce the required module numbers, simplifying design and cutting system costs. Two variants are available, NXH800H120L7QDSG and SNXH800H120L7QDSG, catering to different application needs.

 

Latest Technology

The QDual3 IGBTs feature an 800 A half-bridge configuration, integrating the latest Gen7 trench Field Stop IGBT and diode, while onsemi’s advanced packaging techniques reduce switching and conduction losses. FS7 technology enables a 30% reduction in die size, allowing more dies per module and increasing power density to support higher current capacities of 800 A or more. The QDual3 module boasts an IGBT VCE(sat) as low as 1.65 V at 175°C and low Eoff, leading to 10% lower energy losses and heat dissipation than the next-best alternatives.

 

The NXH800H120L7QDSG IGBT

The NXH800H120L7QDSG IGBT. Image used courtesy of onsemi

 

These modules meet stringent automotive standards, underscoring their robustness and reliability under harsh conditions. They are engineered to operate efficiently in central inverters for solar farms, battery energy storage systems, commercial agricultural vehicles, and industrial motor drives. Their enhanced power density and reduced energy losses contribute to higher efficiency and lower operational costs.

“The fundamental semiconductor technology itself is a huge differentiator,” Ajay Sattu, director of Product Marketing, Industrial Power Division, onsemi, told EEPower. “Because we actually we have extended our reliability almost more than twice what is required.”

 

Impact on Renewables

The QDual3 modules are pivotal in renewable energy applications, particularly solar power generation and energy storage. These modules facilitate more efficient energy production and storage by enabling higher power output within the same system size. This is crucial for solar farms, where maximizing power output and managing energy storage is essential for operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Moreover, the modules help address the challenge of solar energy intermittency. By storing excess power in battery energy storage systems, they ensure a consistent energy supply, which is vital for grid stability and reliability. The ability to parallel the modules to achieve higher output power further enhances their applicability in large-scale renewable energy projects.

The increased power density, efficiency, and ability to reduce system complexity of onsemi's 7th generation QDual3 IGBT modules represent a significant advancement in power electronics for renewable energy applications. Their robust design and high performance under harsh conditions make them an ideal choice for various high-powered applications, driving the future of efficient and sustainable energy solutions.