July 6, 2023 /SemiMedia/ -- Renesas Electronics Corporation and Wolfspeed, Inc. today announced the execution of a wafer supply agreement, with Renesas Electronics paying a $2 billion deposit to secure Wolfspeed's 10-year supply commitment of silicon carbide bare and epitaxial wafers.

The supply of high-quality silicon carbide wafers from Wolfspeed will pave the way for Renesas to scale production of silicon carbide power semiconductors starting in 2025. The signing ceremony of the agreement was held at Renesas’ headquarters in Tokyo between Hidetoshi Shibata, President and CEO of Renesas, and Gregg Lowe, President and CEO of Wolfspeed. 

The decade-long supply agreement calls for Wolfspeed to provide Renesas with 150mm silicon carbide bare and epitaxial wafers scaling in CY2025, reinforcing the companies’ vision for an industry-wide transition from silicon to silicon carbide semiconductor power devices. The agreement also anticipates supplying Renesas with 200mm silicon carbide bare and epitaxial wafers after the recently announced John Palmour Manufacturing Center for Silicon Carbide (the “JP”) is fully operational. 

The need for more efficient power semiconductors, which supply and manage electricity, is dramatically increasing throughout automotive and industrial applications, spurred by the growth of electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy. Renesas is moving quickly to address the growing demand for power semiconductors by expanding its in-house manufacturing capacity. The company recently announced the restart of its Kofu Factory to produce IGBTs, and establishment of a silicon carbide production line at its Takasaki Factory. 

Compared to conventional silicon power semiconductors, silicon carbide devices enable higher energy efficiency, greater power density and a lower system cost. In an increasingly energy-conscious world, the adoption of silicon carbide is becoming ever more pervasive across multiple high-volume applications spanning EVs, renewable energy and storage, charging infrastructure, industrial power supplies, traction and variable speed drives. 

“The wafer supply agreement with Wolfspeed will provide Renesas with a stable, long-term supply base of high-quality silicon carbide wafers. This empowers Renesas to scale our power semiconductor offerings to better serve customers’ vast array of applications,” said Hidetoshi Shibata, President and CEO of Renesas. “We are now poised to elevate ourselves as a key player in the accelerating silicon carbide market.” 

“With the steepening demand for silicon carbide across the automotive, industrial and energy sectors, it’s critically important we have best-in-class power semiconductor customers like Renesas to help lead the global transition from silicon to silicon carbide,” said Gregg Lowe, President and CEO of Wolfspeed. “For more than 35 years, Wolfspeed has focused on producing silicon carbide wafers and high-quality power devices, and this relationship marks an important step in our mission to save the world energy.”  

The Renesas $2 billion deposit will help support Wolfspeed’s ongoing capacity construction projects including the JP, the world’s largest silicon carbide materials factory in Chatham County, North Carolina. The state-of-the-art, multi-billion-dollar facility is targeted to generate a more than 10-fold increase from Wolfspeed’s current silicon carbide production capacity on its Durham, North Carolina campus. The facility will produce primarily 200mm silicon carbide wafers, which are 1.7x larger than 150mm wafers, translating into more chips per wafer and ultimately, lower device costs.