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ICs could reap $2B in alternative energy

Posted: 02 Mar 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:energy alternative? semiconductor renewable energy? solar market?

Alternative energy systems and the semiconductors used in them could grow at an annual rate of as much as 40 percent over the next several years, according to a report from The Information Network.

Solar, wind and fuel cell systems consumed an estimated $800 million in semiconductors in 2008, a figure that could rise to nearly $2 billion by 2012, the report said. The chips involved are primarily MOSFETs, IGBTs, microcontrollers, DSPs and discretes used to convert the renewable energy from AC to DC power.

"The figures are based on a quantitative analysis," said Robert Castellano, president of research firm founded in 1985 that tracks a wide variety of silicon, LCD and other high tech markets.

"We contacted companies making these [renewable energy] systems and tried to determine the semiconductor content in them on a cost per watt basis, then [extrapolated] based on a forecast of watts that will be generated for solar, wind and stationary fuel cells including U.S. government energy forecasts," he added.

Some of the anticipated growth will come as the result of the recently passed economic stimulus package that calls for spending about $43 billion on alternative energy including about $4.3 billion on smart electric grids.

"The U.S. stimulus package for alternative energy will impact the entire semiconductor food market," said Castellano in a prepared statement. "There will be increased demand for computers and control systems enabling consumers to monitor energy consumption on the smart grid," he added.

The report also discusses the impact on semiconductor sales of growth in emerging technologies such as geothermal systems and electric cars.

"There's really not much of a market for some of these things now," he said. "For example, electric cars may not start to be an appreciable market until 2015," he added.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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