Tag Archives: semiconductors

Renewable energy wasted because of inefficient current converters

The Department of Energy and Climate Change showed some figures that describe the UK produced 26,000 GWh of electricity in 2010 through renewable energy sources. These sources include wind, biomass, solar and wave generation.

But figures of IQE and XP Power, two British technology companies, show that a lot of this renewable energy produced in the UK is wasted because of inefficient current converters. About 7,600 gigawatt hours of electricity is wasted when converting AC/DC power to the direct current that’s required for electronic devices. The figures show that this is almost a third of the produced ‘renewable’ electricity from all sources in the UK.

In April, David Cameron, Prime Minister, told a group of 23 international energy ministers that the government wants to commit to a ‘green future’ for Britain. This means that they don’t want to rely on fossil fuels. They also want to shut down all but one nuclear power plants by 2023 in the UK and a third of the coal generation fleet must be closed by 2015 because of new EU carbon restrictions.

By 2020, the UK should generate 15 per cent of its energy consumption from renewable energy sources. That’s one of the targets described in the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive set. But Drew Nelson, chief executive of IQE, the compound semiconductor maker, said that the government needs to concentrate its energy policies more on power conservation and less on the costly new electricity generation projects.

He said that the UK’s lack of energy efficiency has a massive impact of the national power strategy. The new forms of energy generation are so expensive but a lot of the energy goes to waste. So it’s better to focus on energy efficiency and power conservation.

So IQE is going to take advantage of the push towards energy efficiency. They have ultra-thin epitaxy wafers that are used in the manufacture of semiconductors, present in power converters and low-energy light-emitting diodes. LEDs use 85 per cent less energy than incandescent bulbs because they produce almost no heat.

And beside the loss of energy because of inefficient converters, 17,000 GWh of power was also wasted in 2009 in the EU because of electrical devices left on standby. That’s the same as 6.8m tones of carbon dioxide. And it’s forecasted that this will grow to 31,000 GWh by 2020.