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IGCT – Harnessing the power of wind
High power semiconductors are key components to control the power generation and connection of the net-work from renewable energy sources such as wind turbines. The semiconductors are used for two main tasks in the chain of renewable energy sources, one is the conversion of power in the plant, such as in wind turbines, and second is the transmission of power to the grid.
Offshore wind generation will become a significant contributor in the global effort to decarbonize energy production. Higher-power wind turbines are an important trend in the wind industry, as they help to improve profitability. Today, the current generation of Hitachi Energy IGCTs (integrated gate-commutated thyristors) are part of the largest offshore wind converters, delivering more than 10 MW of power.
Medium voltage converters offer the clear advantages of smaller currents, low part counts, simpler installation, and reduced space and weight of the equipment. IGCT technology improves the efficiency and reliability of the wind converter significantly, enabling operators of medium voltage converters to reach the lowest Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) and highest return on capital.
Hitachi Energy has developed a new asymmetric 4.5kV IGCT platform to support the trend towards higher power output. The 6500 A, 4500 V IGCT is designed for wind converters delivering 15 MW and above. The segment layout was developed with the goal of maximizing the controllable current. Its mechanical design is based on an existing platform for outerring-gate, 94 mm-diameter silicon wafers, and is footprint compatible with existing IGCT platform.
There will be significant growth in renewables in the next few years, many governments are investing in renewable energy projects. We at Hitachi Energy register an increased demand for IGCTs in offshore wind applications. In 2021, we expect to sell 25% more of these devices in comparison to last year and a further increase is expected in 2022.
The IGCT is the semiconductor of choice for demanding high-power applications such as wind power converters, medium-voltage drives, pumped hydro, marine drives, co-generation, interties, and FACTS. Hitachi Energy semiconductors’ range of 4500 to 6500 volt asymmetric and reverse conducting IGCTs deliver highest power density and reliability together with low on-state losses.