Three reasons for the continuous shortage of IGBT

Column:Industry news Time:2023-06-16 Source:
The demand for IGBT in the industrial and automotive fields is still tight. According to market news, the supply of IGBT in Onsemi was in short supply in May, and the delivery date was still more than 40 weeks, without obvious relief.

According to the 2023Q1 Chip Market Situation Report released by Fuchang Electronics a few days ago, the delivery date of IGBT of STMicroelectronics, Infineon, Fairchild Semiconductor, Microsemi and IXYS is the same as that of 2022Q4, with a maximum of 54 weeks.

The shortage of IGBT is expected to continue until 2024, and the reasons for the shortage of IGBT can be simply classified into three points: firstly, limited production capacity and slow expansion; Secondly, there is a strong demand for automotive applications, with Tesla significantly increasing its IGBT demand by cutting 75% of its silicon carbide usage. Thirdly, the proportion of solar inverters using IGBT has significantly increased, and the green energy market is driving the IGBT market.

IGBT production capacity is limited and expansion is slow

Most 6-inch and 8-inch wafers are depreciated, but due to cost-effectiveness issues, few 6-inch and 8-inch wafers will expand IGBT production capacity. However, some 12 inch wafer factories have already started to produce IGBT. For example, the plan of Dianzhuang and United Electronics Corporation in cooperation with Semiconductor Japan Co., Ltd. (USJC) to produce IGBT on 12 inch wafer factories will start in the first half of 2023, and the 12 inch wafer factories acquired by Infineon and Onsemi have made progress in IGBT production.

However, these expansions will take some time. It is reported that Infineon's new factory in Germany will not be officially mass produced until 2026. Onsemi's production capacity in 2023 has been sold out. Some customers have basically finalized the supply for 2023 in the second half of 2022.

Although IGBT customers and order size are growing, it still takes time to adjust the capacity of downstream foundries, which mainly focus on Consumer electronics with large and stable order size. In the short term, it is difficult to alleviate the shortage of IGBT.

Moreover, the hot market for gallium nitride and silicon carbide composite materials has also changed the route of wafer factories. New composite materials not only have great potential in the automotive field, but also in the 5G, AIoT, and new energy markets. IGBT has also been squeezed in this regard. Moreover, despite the mature IGBT production technology of 6 inch and 8 inch IGBT, the industry has long been dominated by major international companies such as Infineon, Onsemi, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, etc. The challenges faced by IGBT production in 12 inch wafer factories will also be greater. This problem is not easy for newcomers to enter in terms of technology, materials, and manufacturing.

Strong demand for automotive products, Tesla slashes 75% of silicon carbide usage

The number of IGBTs used in electric vehicles is 7-10 times that of traditional fuel vehicles, reaching over a hundred. In addition, Tesla announced on this year's AI Investment Day that the next generation of models will reduce SiC usage by 75%, which has also made the demand for IGBT vehicles even more tight. The manufacturing cost of IGBT is lower than that of silicon carbide. Due to its simple architecture and low failure rate, IGBT also has better capacitive performance and better overvoltage resistance, making it suitable for high-power and high current application scenarios.

Some analysts pointed out that the SiC+IGBT hybrid module scheme may reduce the cost of the electric drive system using SiC, and is one of the potential schemes.

t is reported that due to the shortage of IGBT, Hanlei Group has acquired a large order from Infineon, the leader of IGBT chip components, and increased the OEM price of IGBT production lines by 10% at the beginning of the year.

Green energy market drives IGBT demand

During the 14th Five Year Plan period, the country will adhere to the clean and low-carbon strategic direction. Photovoltaic power generation, as a green and environmentally friendly power generation method, is in line with the development direction of national energy reform focusing on quality and efficiency. According to the prediction of China Photovoltaic Industry Association, the new installed capacity of global Solar inverter is expected to reach 330GW in 2025, assuming that the replacement installed capacity of Solar inverter is 42GW in 2025. According to the calculation that IGBT accounts for 18% of the BOM cost of series inverter and 15% of the BOM cost of centralized inverter, it is estimated that the IGBT market size of Solar inverter will exceed 10 billion in 2025.

The domestic IGBT supplier Star Semiconductor stated in its 2022 performance forecast that IGBT modules and discrete devices have been installed in large quantities and rapidly increased in the field of photovoltaic power generation and energy storage; BYD Semiconductor announced in June last year that its IGBT modules had been shipped in bulk in the photovoltaic field.

According to the statistics of analysis institutions, the new installed capacity of global photovoltaic will reach 244GW in 2022. According to the data of the International Energy Agency (IEA), there will be 125 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.

The promotion of multiple green energy markets is expanding the size of the IGBT market, but due to multiple factors, it will take some time for the supply of IGBT to ease.