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Power electronics enables the efficient generation, use, and distribution of electrical energy because it substantially improves energy conversion efficiency. In order to realize the large electrical energy savings potential enabled by power electronics suitable technological solutions at acceptable cost levels are needed. Moreover, public policy and public acceptance must play an increasingly important role. An effective way to quantify the value of power electronics is needed and it must be presented in such a way that it is understood and appreciated by policymakers. In this paper, energy payback time is shown to be a powerful tool for weighing the value of energy savings achieved by using power electronics versus the energy needed to manufacture the systems. A life cycle analysis of two power electronic converters and their parts is performed. The benefits of energy savings versus energy invested in manufacturing and end-of-life management of power converters is analyzed. It is shown that power electronics systems have considerably shorter energy payback time compared to other technologies.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2011