There is a clear recognizable need for the United States to transition to energy independence, develop green energy technologies that serve both financial and environmental needs, and upgrade the outdated power infrastructure of the country to meet the demands of the future. The utilization of the silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) power devices allows for a number of key benefits, in particular:
Operate at 150 °C with a ~5× reduction in heat sink size
Higher efficiency at higher power levels translates into energy savings yielding financial and environment benefits
High power density enables the deployment of systems with smaller footprint size for weight and/or space sensitive applications, and cost savings installation
Every renewable energy source requires a power electronics interface that converts the energy into a form usable by the power grid and the end user. Power electronics interfaces presently are not efficient enough, are not small enough, and are not reliable enough to implement on the large scale required to meet the nation’s future needs. APEI, Inc. has been working over the past several years to develop advanced silicon carbide power electronics technology that meet many of these critical power needs. APEI, Inc. is presently working in conjunction with Consolidated Edison of New York and the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission (University of Arkansas), under the guidance of the Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories, to: (1) develop ultra high energy efficiency SiC-based power inverters for interfacing with renewable energy systems (solar arrays, wind generators, etc.) and (2) develop high speed, high efficiency, quick response solid-state fault current limiters for placement in the national utility grid to protect against major blackout failures.