Wednesday, February 1, 2023

ST’s Industrial Summit Focused On “Powering Your Sustainable Innovation”

By Sharad Bhowmick

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STMicroelectronics held its annual Industrial summit in the first week in November. The main spokesperson from ST’s Industrial Summit Media Event 2022 was Francesco MUGGERI, VP of Marketing & Applications, Power Discrete and Analog, APeC/China

Global energy consumption is increasing day by day. And to stop climate change, we need to reduce carbon emissions. Many countries are trying to reduce their carbon footprint by reducing pollution and adopting renewable generation. With America and EU pledging to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, China by 2060 and various other countries following a similar timeline. It is also the responsibility of big corporates to comply and make efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

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“1% of energy in the industrial market means saving 15 nuclear plants’ production of energy. And with strong contributions to CO2 emission, reducing by 32 million tons,” says Francesco MUGGERI “In 2021, 51% of ST’s used electricity has already come from renewable energies. This is something showing how ST is already in place. But our goal and target is to reach by 2027, 100% usage of energy from renewable sources.”

Impact of Global Energy Consumption

Residential power adds up to 27% of total energy consumption, and small electronic devices such as adaptors which remain in standby mode throughout the day consume a small amount of energy each. It may seem like these devices don’t consume much, but if we calculate the standby power consumption of all the chargers worldwide, it amounts to a substantial amount of energy. Francesco claims that “By saving the standby power, we’ll lead to another 10 nuclear plants. Anyhow, what is important is to understand that our effort to save a little bit in efficiency seems a little, but it is a lot.”

Three Competence Centers

For a sustainable future, we need to focus on the Competence Centres, that are: Energy production, Energy Efficiency and Energy saving. To improve sustainability and reduce emissions, we need to take care of all three parameters. The three competence centres and these can be described as

  • Energy production: It needs to be taken care of at the power generation source. We need to move towards clean energy generation and that can be achieved by increasing the share of renewable energy generation.
  • Energy efficiency: It needs to be taken care of at the grid. It can be improved by improving the efficiency of the solution and energy transmission.
  • Energy saving: It needs to be done at the load and can be achieved with intelligence, by introducing automation, therefore reducing energy wastage.

The image below shows the three competence center.

Energy Conversion Chain

Talking about the energy conversion chain, Francesco said “If we analyze the energy conversion chain, you see the importance of the energy generation, the transmission and storage, and the consumption. You know how to intervene in the three blocks that you see here. On the first one on the left, you see that we have energy generation and energy storage. When we talk about energy storage, do not just think about batteries and elements to be charged, and storing the electric energy. We also have other kinds of energy storage, for example, we can produce hydrogen, and later on, use hydrogen.

And another way could be having two lakes, one lower level and one upper level. And you move the water from the lower level to the upper level where we have exceeded energy and produce that energy again when you need it, so driving the water from the upper lake down to the lower lake. And for energy transmission, energy transmission today is in AC, but perhaps one of the trends could also go in DC.”

When asked about transmission losses, ways to improve the efficiency of our Grids and ST’s plan regarding the same Francesco says “This is one of the subjects perhaps ST will work on in coming 2 or 3 years,”

The losses in AC transmission is because of various factors such as resistive skin loss, corona loss, and losses due to low power factor.

“In AC transmission, the loss is around 6-7% or even 10% sometimes. There are two main factors. One is once you use the AC transmission, you have to pump into the grid a huge amount of energy, and you have two components of the energy, one is real and one is apparent or imaginary. But you need both of them as you cannot transfer the power, but unfortunately, the portion of what we call imaginary or apparent energy cannot be used. So you pump in the net a huge amount of energy, but you cannot fully use all of it.”

Explaining the solution he says that the DC/DC transmission can solve the issue as it is over 98% efficient compared to about 90-95% efficiency of AC transmission.

“In DC transmission, in the worst case, you lose 2.5%. But there are complexities.” Says MUGGERI, “the first step is to implement those in a local micro-grid approach. And we have already customers who sell all the solutions like that. We are working together to make it happen. The challenge is to bring it on a big scale.”

SiC and GaN are the future!

 

 

 

 

 

ST have a huge investment in a new plant which can produce raw wafers for Silicon Carbide. The new plant is in Catania and ST is hoping to produce first batch of raw wafers by end of 2024. ST already have a production line for Gallium Nitride (GaN) in Tours, France. The advantages and use cases of SiC and GaN are shown in the image below:

Need for Improving Motor Efficiency!

When discussing motor control and energy utilised by motors, we tend to underestimate the energy these electromechanical devices consume. But, in reality, motors are one of the single largest sources of energy consumption. Motors are used in many machines including fans, and compressors and in most applications where any sort of physical movement is required. By enhancing the efficiency of motors and reducing the losses we can save a lot of energy globally.

“Humans almost use 52% of energy for motors. So, by optimizing this portion of energy, (we need to) optimize the motor, (which) means reducing vibration and reducing the energy that is used. So, the optimization of this process requires firmware and requires hardware. And all these are available in ST. So you understand once again why we are in this direction. We have a strong portfolio definitely and we want to sell it. But we are matching the sustainability driver.”


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