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Posted on 01 October 2019

Interview with Robert Wiatr from Mitsubishi on Wind Power Electronics Applications

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By Bodo Arlt, Editor BP

 

Bodo Arlt: What influence does the growing wind energy market have on the development of power semiconductors at Mitsubishi?

Robert Wiatr: The fast growth of the wind energy market confirms our development strategy which we have been following since years. Customised solutions which fit exactly to end customer’s requirements have a huge influence on our development strategy.

Robert Wiatr

Bodo Arlt: What are the challenges/alternatives in this market?

Robert Wiatr: High growth rates, very innovative designs as well as a strong trend towards consolidation of the key wind turbine manufacturers are characteristic for this application field. Same trend is shown in other renewable energies such as photovoltaics. In future, also fuel cells and power distribution will become more and more important where energy savings are the key.

Bodo Arlt: Which solutions does Mitsubishi offer to be competitive in the wind market?

Robert Wiatr: With our Mega Power Dual IGBT Module (MPD) which is well accepted in the market we are well prepared for this application segment. Mitsubishi will follow this concept consistently. However, with Mitsubishi’s wide product portfolio we can also follow customers’ requirements for alternative solutions.

Bodo Arlt: What is the semiconductor voltage class that you would recommend for variable-speed wind turbines?

Robert Wiatr: For today’s and the next generation of variable-speed wind turbines, we clearly see the 1200V and 1700V class as the most frequently used solution for this application. In the long run, we see a trend towards higher voltages like 3300V and 4500V based on the requirements for future megawatt solutions. Compared to other suppliers to the wind energy market, Mitsubishi have state-of the-art products from 600V up to 6500V, incl. 4500V.

Bodo Arlt: What sets Mitsubishi apart from other module suppliers in the world?

Robert Wiatr: As the world leader for Power Semiconductor Modules, we are located at all places were our customers are producing. This gives us the possibility to communicate face-to-face directly at the production and developments centres and react to customer’s requirements in short time. Moreover, our well known high quality, based on leading-edge technologies and state-of-the-art production facilities and the high integration of our production processes, is the key for our leadership. Mitsubishi possess all key technologies for power module design such as state-of-the-art IGBT and diode chip technology, HVIC and package technology for “All the Power You Need” starting from 0.1 kW home appliances up to 4 MW wind mills and even higher in future. Also production facilities and processes are in-house designs exactly dedicated to our needs. Our expertise in high voltage modules and our key supplier position in the transportation market prove this strong demand for highest quality & reliability standards once more.

Bodo Arlt: How much gets Mitsubishi involved in the end customer’s wind power applications?

Robert Wiatr: Most of our customers involve us directly from the beginning of the development of wind turbines. Especially if we should develop a customised module, close communication will create win-win situation, providing customer with a tailor-made solution and shortening the time to market.

Bodo Arlt: How do you see the future in IGBTs and the mandatory gate driver technology for use in wind power applications?

Robert Wiatr: Gate drive technology is an essential part of the design to optimise the overall system characteristics, especially in the field of renewable energies where efficiency counts. Gate drive technology is one core competence of Mitsubishi Electric which has been incorporated into our Intelligent Power Module (IPM) concept for a variety of application fields from white goods up to traction systems. Herewith, Mitsubishi have followed the market trend towards more and more compact modules with high efficiency and high integration. However, also in future Mitsubishi will continue to offer both concepts: IGBTs for customers who prefer the flexibility to design their own system and IPMs for those who are looking for an integrated solution.

Bodo Arlt: Can we expect to see more silicon carbide devices from Mitsubishi for wind power solutions?

Robert Wiatr: Yes. But it still takes time to develop silicon carbide devices for wind power application. The research of silicon carbide devices has a very high priority within Mitsubishi. However, it is not only the development of the silicon carbide devices self but also the provision of appropriate production processes, bonding and package technologies to realise a cost competitive product for a variety of applications.

Bodo Arlt: Who of your competitors do you believe will fuel the race for leadership?

Robert Wiatr: All of our competitors have strong products for this application, but I believe that the leadership will be at Mitsubishi at the end of the day. With more than 25 years of experience in power electronics, continuous investments into R&D and production capacities and a comprehensive product portfolio we are well prepared for the challenges to come. Specifically, with the recent acquisition of the chip manufacturing facilities of Renesas’ Kumamoto factory and the implementation of an 8-inch wafer production, Mitsubishi Electric have been working to increase the production capability significantly. The capacity of our HV production lines has been increased by 60% in the second quarter of this year. Together with our highest quality and reliability standards and strong customer orientation we feel well equipped to meet the market requirements.

Bodo Arlt: Dear Robert thank you very much for your time. We are looking forward to a bright future for wind power.

 

 

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