3534IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER ELECTRONICS, VOL. 26, NO. 12, DECEMBER 2011Quantifying the Value of Power Electronicsin Sustainable Electrical Energy SystemsJelena Popovi´c-Gerber, Member, IEEE, Jan Abraham Ferreira, Fellow, IEEE,and Jacobus Daniel van Wyk, Associate Member, IEEEAbstract—Power electronics enables the efficient generation,use, and distribution of electrical energy because it substantiallyimproves energy conversion efficiency. In order to realize the largeelectrical energy savings potential enabled by power electronicssuitable technological solutions at acceptable cost levels are needed.Moreover, public policy and public acceptance must play an in-creasingly important role. An effective way to quantify the valueof power electronics is needed and it must be presented in sucha way that it is understood and appreciated by policymakers. Inthis paper, energy payback time is shown to be a powerful toolfor weighing the value of energy savings achieved by using powerelectronics versus the energy needed to manufacture the systems.A life cycle analysis of two power electronic converters and theirparts is performed. The benefits of energy savings versus energyinvested in manufacturing and end-of-life management of powerconverters is analyzed. It is shown that power electronics systemshave considerably shorter energy payback time compared to othertechnologies.IndexTerms—Energyefficiency,lifecycleanalysis,powerelectronics.I. POWERELECTRONICS IN ASUSTAINABLEELECTRICALENERGYSYSTEMTHE ever increasing demand for energy, the dwindling offossil fuel reserves and the need for carbon footprint re-duction have resulted in a global awareness of the importance ofenergy savings and energy efficiency. This topic is taking highpriority in today’s society, leading to many new governmentalpolicies and measures, industrial awareness and research beingconducted all over the world. Combating the energy and cli-mate problems requires a complex, multidisciplinary approachthat necessitates technological solutions such as sustainable en-ergy sources and more efficient energy use alongside politicalManuscript received January 1, 2011; revised July 3, 2011; accepted August8, 2011. Date of current version December 6, 2011. This work was supportedin part by the European Centre for Power Electronics (ECPE). This paper is arevised version of the paper presented at the IEEE Energy Conversion Congressand Exposition (ECCE), Atlanta, Georgia, September 12–16, 2010. Recom-mended for publication by Associate Editor (Letters AE) J. Biela.J. Popovic-Gerber is with the Delft University of Technology, Delft, TheNetherlands, and with the European Centre for Power Electronics, Nuremberg,Germany (e-mail: [email protected]).