Ingeteam sees electrifying prospects – An interview with Ingeteam Power Technology

The power electronics market comprised $17.5B for power semiconductor devices in 2018. In the report Status of Power Electronics Industry 2019, Yole Développement (Yole)’s analysts analyze the power electronic device technology and market trends including device manufacturing using larger diameter wafers and new applications such as energy storage and electric vehicle charging.

Mikel Borrega Ayala, director of the Electric Vehicle Chargers business unit at Ingeteam Power Technology talked with Ana Villamor, Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics and Milan Rosina, Principal Analyst, Power Electronics & Batteries, both from Yole. Read their exchange to understand what are the issues and opportunities for Ingeteam Power Technology in this challenging industry.

Ana Villamor & Milan Rosina (AV & MR): Please briefly introduce yourself and your activities at Ingeteam to i-micronews.com’s readers?

Mikel Borrega Ayala (MBA): I have worked at Ingeteam since 2003. I have done most of my work in the R&D department of our photovoltaic unit, doing hardware and software engineering at first and becoming responsible for string inverters later.  Three years ago, I had the opportunity of being a part of the Electric Vehicle Chargers business unit, as the director. Although I now do other types of work more related with management, I am fully involved in technical issues and design process of new chargers.

AV & MR: What are the main power electronics products developed by Ingeteam? What are the main applications?

MBA: Ingeteam group develops all types of power electronic systems for applications like wind turbines, photovoltaic plants, large boats, motor drives, battery energy storage systems, on-board traction converters for trains and electric vehicle chargers.

AV & MR: How do your products add value?

MBA: Ingeteam is very competitive when a customer needs a product with added value, thanks to the power of the solution, the level of customization, the after-sale service or the requirement of the use of the latest technology for example.

AV & MR: Power electronics has been experiencing attractive growth for the past few years, mainly driven by the vehicle electrification phenomenon. What is the impact of this growth on Ingeteam’s business? And what will be the status of Ingeteam’s business in 2020?

MBA: The electrification phenomenon spans all applications related to electric energy, from the start to the end. Ingeteam is involved in all of them. First, electric energy must be generated and renewable energies like wind or solar are the key. Later, all these distributed energy plants must be coordinated and adapted to energy demand at each moment. Battery energy storage systems are essential for integrating the distributed renewable energy plants. Finally, electric energy consumption curves are changing totally with electric vehicles, and a smart charger is needed in order to help with the control of the grid. Electric Vehicle Chargers is the newest business unit created at Ingeteam, but it is growing very fast, with an increment of sales of 240% in 2019.

Courtesy of Ingeteam Power Technology – DC 50kW charger – RAPID 50

AV & MR: Ingeteam has recently enlarged its portfolio with charging infrastructure converters. Which product is most in demand? And what do you think will be the main product within five years?

MBA: One of the advantages of electric vehicles in comparison with traditional combustion vehicles is that they have the possibility of charging in several places: at home, in the office, streets or roads. All of them are interesting and they have different requirements in relation to the power and charger type, whether it’s AC or DC. It is not possible to say that one type is more interesting than other. At Ingeteam we are focused nowadays on public chargers because they need higher added value so they are more suitable for us. But does not mean that domestic isn´t important for us anymore. If the requirements of domestic chargers change and higher added value is needed, Ingeteam will be there offering a competitive product.

AV & MR: We have seen power levels today reaching 350 kW. What will be the future trends from your point of view? Is the market ready for such high charging power levels?

MBA: In my opinion, the tendency is to increase the charging power as much as necessary so that the autonomy and charging speed is equal to autonomy and fueling speed of combustion vehicles. The power of the ultra-fast chargers will continue increasing. In fact, Ingeteam recently introduced to the market a 400 kW charger, the most powerful in Europe according to our research. In the future we think that 700 kW chargers will be utilized for charging electric cars, but it will take some time because we have reached a technological limit in relation with the batteries and charging wires. In the case of chargers for other vehicles like buses or trucks, higher powers will be achieved sooner.

Courtesy of Ingeteam Power Technology – DC 400kW charger – RAPID ST400 in Ugaltebieta petrol station (near Bilbao). This project was the result of the collaboration between REPSOL, IBIL and INGETEAM companies
Courtesy of Ingeteam Power Technology – DC 400kW charger – RAPID ST400 in Ugaltebieta petrol station (near Bilbao). This project was the result of the collaboration between REPSOL, IBIL and INGETEAM companies

AV & MR: At Yole, we see a big drive in China for charging infrastructure. How does Ingeteam see the worldwide deployment of charging stations? How will this affect energy storage systems and transmission and distribution?

MBA: It is true that China is doing a really good job, both with renewable energy and with electric vehicles. But in my opinion, USA, Japan and Europe are also doing well. The case of Europe is especially encouraging, countries are doing a very good job with electric vehicles and surpassing USA and Japan in sales of these type of vehicles.

AV & MR: There is also a strong demand for hybrid photovoltaic and energy storage systems. Vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-grid solutions with bidirectional inverters are also being developed. Could you comment on these trends as well?

MBA: Distributed energy generation systems like solar or wind turbines farms have a clear disadvantage: They don´t produce anything if there is no sun or wind. If we want a high implementation level of renewable energy, it is necessary to complement them with energy storage. Electric vehicles have huge potential because they are distributed batteries connected to the grid. They can help the grid if needed when solar and wind energy are less effective. Thanks to vehicle to grid technology electric cars are not only not bad for the electrical network, they are positive because they can help to stabilize it.

AV & MR: What currently are the main technical challenges linked to power electronics integration?

MBA: From my point of view, the main challenges are related with the use of SiC technology. What these types of semiconductors can offer has increased a lot and the price has gone down, so it is the most interesting technology for all types of applications, and especially for electric vehicle chargers. Meanwhile, there is not enough supply for components for passive electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) filters. We need more passive elements, including capacitors, inductors, chokes and ferrites suitable for high speed switching capabilities of these SiC switches.

AV & MR: What can we expect from Ingeteam in the next two to three years?

MBA: Ingeteam will continue to grow constantly in established sectors like wind, solar and traction, and it will establish itself in new sectors like Electric Vehicle Chargers or Battery Energy Storage Systems.

Courtesy of Ingeteam Power Technology – AC 22+22kW charger – FUSION Street

Interviewee

Mikel Borrega Ayala has a Ph.D. in Renewable Energies and is director of the Electric Vehicle Chargers business unit at Ingeteam Power Technology. Before joining Ingeteam, he worked at FAGOR Automation as a hardware engineer. In 2003, he started at Ingeteam in the beginnings of the Solar business unit. It was a very small unit during these years but it has become the most important unit at Ingeteam today. He started designing PV inverter hardware, but later he concentrated on the firmware, specializing in automatic control. On 2012, he became responsible for the string inverter group, and improved his skills in project management, product strategy and product design. In 2017 he had the opportunity to become the director of the very new Electric Vehicle Chargers business unit. It posed a management and product design challenge. The requirements of EV chargers explore the state of art in terms of high frequency transformer converters, SiC technology, automatic control or cooling systems. He is an author on several scientific publications and patents.

Interviewers

Ana Villamor, PhD serves as a Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics & Compound Semiconductors within the Power & Wireless division at Yole Développement (Yole). She is involved in many custom studies and reports focused on emerging power electronics technologies at Yole Développement, including device technology and reliability analysis (MOSFET, IGBT, HEMT, etc). In addition, Ana is leading the quarterly power management market updates released in 2017. Previously Ana was involved in a high-added value collaboration related to SJ Power MOSFETs, within the CNM research center for the leading power electronic company ON Semiconductor. During this partnership and after two years as Silicon Development Engineer, she acquired a relevant technical expertise and a deep knowledge of the power electronic industry. Ana is author and co-author of several papers as well as a patent. She holds an Electronics Engineering degree completed by a Master and PhD. in micro and nano electronics from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (SP).


Milan Rosina, PhD, is Principal Analyst, Power Electronics and Batteries, at Yole Développement (Yole), within the Power & Wireless division. He is engaged in the development of the market, technology and strategic analyses dedicated to innovative materials, devices and systems. His main areas of interest are EV/HEV, renewable energy, power electronic packaging and batteries.
Milan has 20 years of scientific, industrial and managerial experience involving equipment and process development, due diligence, technology, and market surveys in the fields of renewable energies, EV/HEV, energy storage, batteries, power electronics, thermal management, and innovative materials and devices. He received his PhD degree from Grenoble Institute of Technology (Grenoble INP) in France. Milan Rosina previously worked for the Institute of Electrical Engineering in Slovakia, Centrotherm in Germany, Fraunhofer IWS in Germany, CEA LETI in France, and utility company ENGIE in France.

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