Here's why the emergence of the Semiconductor Climate Consortium is a timely move

Here’s why the emergence of the Semiconductor Climate Consortium is a timely move.Source: Shutterstock

The Semiconductor Climate Consortium’s timely goals

  • Tech Wire Asia interviews Dallal Slimani
  • Discusses role of the Semiconductor Climate Consortium

The Semiconductor Climate Consortium was formed in 2022 by SEMI, the industry association serving the global electronics manufacturing and design supply chain, and companies across the industry value chain to deal with a huge problem – a booming carbon footprint. Decarbonizing the semiconductor industry will be a big challenge. The industry presents a paradox as there will a need for more semiconductors to enable technologies that address the climate crisis, from electric vehicles to solar arrays or even wind turbines.

Even the most basic chip manufacturing contributes to the climate crisis because it requires enormous energy and water. An article by The Guardian explains how a chip fabrication plant, or fab, can use millions of gallons of water daily–creating hazardous waste. Take Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest chipmaker, for instance. The Taiwanese chipmaker, which supplies chips to Apple, pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050. TSMC uses nearly 5% of all Taiwan’s electricity, according to figures from Greenpeace, and it used about 63m tons of water in 2019.

This is why the Semiconductor Climate Consortium, which is also the first international collaboration between semiconductor companies focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain, consists of more than 70 semiconductor companies, including TSMC, Intel, and Samsung.

The consortium, with Schneider Electric as a founding member, supports the Paris Climate Agreement and efforts to limit the increase in global temperatures by 1.5 degrees Celsius. The collaboration will see Schneider pool resources with other industry players and align to develop decarbonization solutions together.

During SEMICON Southeast Asia (SEA) 2023 last month, Tech Wire Asia had the chance to speak with Dallal Slimani, Vice President of Semiconductor and Electrical Vehicle Battery at Schneider Electric, who shared the progress of sustainability in the semiconductor industry. TWA last spoke to Slimani in 2022, before the formation of the consortium.

Dallal Slimani in conversation with Tech Wire Asia at SEMICON SEA 2023.

Dallal Slimani in conversation with Tech Wire Asia at SEMICON SEA 2023.

TWA: Can you update us on the Semiconductor Climate Consortium and its progress at this point?

The consortium comprises members that address the whole value chain. We have design companies, front end, back end, and people who are part of the ecosystem, including those from the tech industry and semiconductor industry customers. These are the group of people and companies coming together to tackle the decarbonization challenge that the industry is facing through the whole value chain.

The consortium has different working groups addressing various topics in scopes one, two, and three. The idea is to come up with methodologies using the tools and solutions while focusing on each of these working groups to drive decarbonization within the industry.

There is some level of standardization that we will see around different solutions, which is why the industry is coming together to drive meaningful change. We also will be looking at how to leverage technology and how to partner with other ecosystems in order here also to bring solutions to the table when it comes to decarbonization.

Different elements and topics are linked to awareness of the industry’s carbon footprint. I believe we can do much more there, but our working groups are devising specific solutions that the industry can adopt to decarbonize. So as the consortium takes shape with time, there will be more to unfold.

TWA: What sort of barriers should manufacturers overcome in terms of adopting more sustainable measures?

There are many barriers that the semiconductor industry and multiple industries face when it comes to going through this sustainability decarbonization journey. First, we can look at where the sustainability discussion is happening. Is it happening at the C-suite, or is it happening lower in the organization? Sustainability needs to be one hot topic in the C suite.

There should also be a sustainability strategy that is fully embedded in the business strategy. The second is based on our experience with our customers and partners, which is a lack of awareness and lack of internal competency inside companies to drive sustainability. Most of the time, companies need help figuring out where to start. Working with a partner with the technical skills and knowledge that can also guide you through the decarbonization journey is essential.

TWA: As the node size of chips continues to shrink, energy requirements at production facilities are expected to rise significantly. How can companies ensure fabs achieve substantial emissions reductions and accelerate decarbonization amidst all the progress?

That is why it is crucial to act now. If we don’t do anything, the projection is that the CO2 footprint will increase dramatically between now and 2030 and beyond. We can work on different levels, with the first one being the renewable energy option. There’s also how equipment manufacturers, chip designers, and chip manufacturers can come together to design more sustainable processes

TWA: Do you think net zero by 2050 is too ambitious?

What I can tell you is that this is an imperative. This is the decade to act if we want to have a shot at having a sustainable life by 2050. Not one single company can do it together; we need to all work together to collaborate, and we need to leverage technology. The consortium is an excellent example of how the industry is coming together.

I can say that the technology already exists today. We can implement many things today, from leveraging digital and other solutions that will allow us to decarbonize.

Watch the full interview with Slimani here.