|Another KRW300bn to Be Invested in GaN Semiconductors|
SK Inc. to Invest KRW700bn in SiC Semiconductor Wafers
By Jung Min-hee September 23, 2021, 14:04Share
An SiC wafer for power semiconductors
SK Group will invest 700 billion won in the silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor wafer business as part of its bid to become the No. 1 player in the world high-tech material market by 2025.
SK Inc., the group’s holding company, recently announced that it will invest 5.1 trillion won in high-tech materials by 2025. Of the total, 700 billion won will be invested in SiC wafers. The company plans to invest another 300 billion won in GaN power semiconductors.
SK Inc. expects its SiC wafer business to generate 30 billion won in sales in 2021, and plans to expand it to 500 billion won by 2025. At the moment, it does not make money in this business but aims to post 200 billion won in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) by 2025.
SiC wafers are an integral part of power semiconductors for electric vehicles, 5G network equipment and solar power generators. They are more resistant to high voltage and heat than silicon (Si) wafers and contribute to making semiconductor chips smaller.
SiC semiconductors can withstand voltages 10 times higher than other semiconductors and operate at 400 degrees Celsius, while Si semiconductors can withstand 175 degrees Celsius at most. Not only are they strong, but their size can be reduced to one-tenth that of Si semiconductors. SK Siltron's SiC wafers reduce power loss by 77 percent and lower weight and volume by 40 percent.
SK Inc. and SK Siltron are paying keen attention to the market of SiC power semiconductors for electric vehicles. In 2018, Tesla created the SiC power semiconductor market as it loaded ST Microelectronics' SiC power chips into its Model 3 for the first time in the automotive industry. Since then, more than 20 automakers have adopted SiC power semiconductors. SK Inc. predicted that the adoption rate of SiC semiconductors for electric vehicles will rise from the current 30 percent to more than 60 percent by 2025, with the SiC wafer market forecast to expand from US$218 million in 2021 to US$811 million by 2025.
SK Inc. plans to preemptively ramp up its production capacity for SiC wafers from 30,000 sheets in 2021 to 600,000 in 2025 to expand its global market share from 5 percent to 26 percent.
SK Group selected SiC wafers and power semiconductors as new growth drivers and has been making massive investment in them for years. SK Siltron entered the SiC wafer business in 2019 by acquiring the SiC wafer business division from DuPont of the United States for US$450 million. In January 2021, SK Inc. invested 26.8 billion won in Yes Power Technics, a Korean company that produces SiC power semiconductors, to take over a 33.6 percent stake in the company. In July, SK Siltron CSS, a U.S. subsidiary of SK Siltron, decided to invest US$300 million in Michigan to expand SiC wafer production facilities. When all facilities are completed and ready to go live, SK Siltron’s production capacity will sextuple. Including this investment of 700 billion won, SK Group invested at least 1.6 trillion won in SiC wafer technology and production alone.
Leading players are also continuing to make large-scale investments. Cree, the No. 1 company, has been building a 450,000-square-meter SiC wafer factory in the U.S. state of New York by investing US$1 billion since 2019. If the wafer factory starts its operations in 2022 as planned, Cree's SiC wafer production capacity will increase over 30-fold from 2017.