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  • The Chip Industry Has a Problem With Its Giant Carbon Footprint
    Bloomberg

    The Chip Industry Has a Problem With Its Giant Carbon Footprint

    (Bloomberg) -- Day and night, trucks arrive at the Southern Taiwan Science Park to pour concrete for what will become the world’s most advanced chip factory.It’s a giant undertaking that befits the out-sized ambitions of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s go-to chipmaker. The TSMC facility’s estimated cost of $20 billion is about three times that of Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. gigafactory near Berlin.It’ll have a carbon footprint to match.Demand for semiconductors is surging as life becomes increasingly digital, with chips the key component of applications from washing machines to artificial intelligence.But all that computing power comes at a cost. Silicon Valley talks a lot about sustainability, yet the reality is that chip-making is a hugely resource-intensive business.In an October 2020 paper, researchers led by Udit Gupta of Harvard University used publicly available sustainability reports from companies including TSMC, Intel Corp. and Apple Inc. to show that as computing becomes increasingly ubiquitous, “so does its environmental impact.”Information and computing technology is expected to account for as much as 20% of global energy demand by 2030, with hardware responsible for more of that footprint than the operation of a system, they found. “Chip manufacturing, as opposed to hardware use and energy consumption, accounts for most of the carbon output,” the researchers concluded.As implied by the title of the paper — “Chasing Carbon: The Elusive Environmental Footprint of Computing” — that’s a little-known fact, and an uncomfortable one for governments pushing high-end chip making.President Joe Biden’s drive to set up cutting-edge fabrication plants, or fabs, in the U.S. risks colliding with his climate friendly agenda, while the European Union’s plans to build chip production could test its commitment to be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.Semiconductor companies broadly acknowledge there’s a footprint issue, although stress the actions they are taking to mitigate their emissions.There’s a paradox at play. The industry touts technological advances that have enabled chips to become incredibly powerful while operating with far greater efficiency, slashing energy use during their lifetime. Yet with billions of transistors now crowded on to a single chip, producing them is increasingly elaborate work.It takes three to four months for a disc of silicon to go through the multiple stages required to process them into the finished product. The wafers make their way along rows of machines that layer on microscopic materials, burn in patterns and scrape off the unneeded portions in procedures that are fully automated. Rinsing with huge amounts of ultrapure water is a key component. And with each new generation, more electricity, water and greenhouses gases are required.The upshot is that the most advanced chipmakers now have a larger carbon footprint than some traditionally more polluting industries. In 2019, for example, company disclosures show that Intel’s factories used more than three times as much water as Ford Motor Co.’s plants and created more than twice as much hazardous waste.“The general trend is the energy consumption is increasing, the water consumption is increasing as all chips become more and more complex,” said Marie Garcia Bardon, a senior researcher at the Imec nanotechnology center in Belgium who does pioneering work estimating aspects of the industry’s carbon footprint.Taiwan with its finite resources is on the horns of the dilemma that poses for both industry and government. TSMC is a major driver of the economy as well as a key player in efforts to overcome a global shortage of chips, hence a strategic asset as Taiwan seeks to keep China, which claims the democratically-governed set of islands at its own, at bay. At the same time, signs of environmental strain raise questions over Taiwan’s vulnerability to climate change — and that of the global semiconductor supply chain.Chip plants in Taiwan called in water trucks earlier this year to ensure supply during a drought caused by the absence of monsoon rains. TSMC’s water consumption has increased almost fivefold in the last decade, and in 2019 amounted to the equivalent of 79,000 full Olympic swimming pools.Power use is more dramatic still: TSMC’s annual electricity consumption is estimated by Greenpeace at 4.8% of Taiwan’s entire usage, and more than that of the capital, Taipei. Greenpeace says that will rise to rise to 7.2% once commercial production comes online of TSMC’s newest fabs that will shrink the process further from the current leading-edge of 5 nanometers, or billions of a meter, to 3nm chips.“For the future of Taiwan’s economic development, the biggest challenge that the electronics industry faces is whether it can bear the weight of its carbon emissions and electricity consumption,” researchers led by Kuei-tien Chou of the National Taiwan University wrote in a paper published in October 2019.TSMC is a key supplier to Apple, and it’s the iPhone maker’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030 that is driving much of the change throughout the supply chain. TSMC has pledged to be using 100% renewable energy by 2050, and in July last year signed a deal to buy the full output of a 920MW offshore wind farm to be built in the Taiwan Strait by Orsted AS of Denmark as part of Taiwan’s transition from coal.“TSMC continues to develop more advanced and efficient technologies to reduce energy/resource consumption and pollution per unit during the manufacturing process,” as well as during product use, the company said in a statement, adding that it will continue to increase its renewable energy use and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.The advent of environment, social and corporate governance, or ESG, is forcing chipmakers to respond, according to Kyle Harrison, an analyst at BloombergNEF. For many of them, “the risk is they could lose significant sources of revenue if they don’t start taking ESG reporting and decarbonization more seriously,” he said.The industry is keen to show how hard it’s working to address its emissions.Samsung Electronics Co., which with Intel is TSMC’s only rival at the cutting-edge of chip making, said in a statement that it went 100% renewable for all operations in the U.S., Europe and China, and is adding solar arrays and geothermal power generation to its South Korean campuses at Pyeongtaek and Hwaseong. It’s improving energy efficiency and reducing the use of harmful substances, CEO Kinam Kim said in March. SK Hynix Inc., also of South Korea, issued a $1 billion green bond earlier this year.Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, said that it was already among the top three users of renewable energy in the U.S., and that chip manufacturers have voluntarily reduced carbon emissions for more than 20 years. Intel treats and returns some 80% of the water it uses and has a goal to raise that to 100%.The risk, however, is the overall environmental impact still grows, as chips become a geopolitical pawn in U.S.-China tensions and countries rush to build more advanced fabs to increase self reliance.TSMC said on April 1 that it plans to spend $100 billion over the next three years to expand its fabrication capacity, while Samsung is committing $116 billion over a decade on its foundry business. Intel plans to build two more fabs at a cost of $20 billion in Arizona. China is pumping billions into trying to catch up, and many chipmakers don’t report their emissions.Both the industry and governments stress that semiconductors are key to cutting emissions through innovations such as efficient energy grids and electric vehicles. Digital technology can help reduce global emissions by 15% “and outweigh the emissions caused by the sector,” according to a spokesperson for the European Commission, the EU’s executive.A senior Biden administration official said the U.S. wants new chip facilities to be built where the energy they consume is clean power, such as solar or wind. The president has made his commitment to tackling the climate crisis clear, the official said, citing $35 billion for innovation to help establish the U.S. as a global leader in clean-energy technology.Still, it’s far from easy for big industry players to clean up chip making all the way down the chain.ASML Holding NV, which has a virtual monopoly on the lithography machines required to etch out the most advanced chips, is tackling its direct emissions by using renewable energy for its plants, recycling parts and and making technological advances that boost efficiency. It still projects its overall carbon footprint will grow through 2025 since most of its emissions are so-called scope 3, meaning a large proportion come from the use of its products by customers. In a candid assessment, ASML said in its 2020 annual report that meeting energy savings targets for its latest machines depend on overcoming “strategic technical challenges” that “are particularly tough to solve.”Gary Dickerson, chief executive officer of California-based Applied Materials Inc., the world’s largest maker of chip equipment, said the responsibility lies with industry leaders to ensure that advances made possible by semiconductors are sustainable.The world is “at the biggest inflection of our lifetimes,” he said, contrasting developments with the industrial revolution powered by coal and oil. “It had a very meaningful, positive impact on the world,” he said in an interview. “But the legacy is not so great from a climate change point.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Globe Newswire

    Poland awards Contract for Difference to the Baltica offshore wind farms

    The Polish Energy Regulatory Office has awarded a Contract for Difference to the Baltica 3 and Baltica 2 offshore wind farms with a total capacity of up to 2.5 GW. Baltica 3 and 2 will contribute significantly to Poland’s green energy transition, accelerate the development of the local supply chain and spur economic activity for many years to come. The Baltica Offshore Wind Farm – the largest offshore wind project in the Polish part of the Baltic Sea comprising the two phases Baltica 3 and Baltica 2 – today came a big step closer to realization when the President of the Polish Energy Regulatory Office (ERO) awarded the project a Contract for Difference (CfD) at a maximum of PLN 319.60/MWh in accordance with the Decree of the Minister of Climate and Environment of Poland and the Offshore Wind Act. This effectively confirms that the Baltica Offshore Wind Farm has been selected for the first phase of Poland’s ambitious offshore wind buildout program. With a total capacity of up to 2.5 GW, Baltica 3 and 2 will generate enough green electricity to power 4 million Polish households. In February 2021, Ørsted and PGE signed an agreement to form a 50/50 joint venture for the development, construction and operation of Baltica 3 and 2, developed through special purpose vehicles. Subject to the closing of the joint venture transaction and Ørsted’s and PGE’s final investments decisions, the Baltica 3-phase of the project (up to 1 GW) would start generating power around 2026, while the Baltica 2-phase (up to 1.5 GW) could become operational before 2030. The CfD award is subject to final approval from the European Commission. Rasmus Errboe, Senior Vice President and Head of Region Continental Europe at Ørsted, says: “The contract award for Baltica 3 and 2 is a big milestone for Polish offshore wind and for Ørsted’s and PGE’s joint ambitions in Poland. Subject to closing of the joint venture agreement, we look very much forward to delivering these important infrastructure projects and to help Poland harness the large green energy resources in the Baltic Sea. The offshore wind industry will be a cornerstone in Poland’s transition to green power and has the potential to create thousands of Polish jobs.” Wojciech Dąbrowski, CEO of PGE Capital Group, says: ”The decision of the President of the Energy Regulatory Office brings the Offshore Programme and the Baltica offshore wind farm closer to realization. Offshore wind in Poland now has a solid foundation to be developed and it is currently the PGE Capital Group's priority. In our application for the CfD we also presented how we intend to carry out our investments in offshore wind farms as the leader of this new industry in Poland. We are committed to strengthen the local supply chain.” Poland’s roadmap for offshore windPoland’s energy policy until 2040 singles out offshore wind as a key technology to make Poland a low-emission economy, and Poland’s Offshore Wind Act specifies Poland’s ambitions for offshore wind: From zero offshore wind capacity today, Poland commits to install 5.9 GW by 2030, up to 11 GW by 2040, and analyses suggest a potential of up to 28 GW in Polish waters by 2050. This will make Poland the biggest market for offshore wind in the Baltic region and contribute significantly to the European Commission’s target of 300 GW offshore wind capacity in European waters by 2050 to meet the EU’s climate neutrality goal. The Polish Wind Energy Association estimates that the realization of the offshore wind capacity targets in the Polish Offshore Wind Act will unlock EUR 29 billion investments. Several Polish companies are already active in the offshore wind industry as suppliers of cables, foundations, cranes and vessels for installation and service of offshore wind turbines. And Polish ports in the Baltic Sea region have the potential to become hubs for installation, service and maintenance of offshore wind farms. The information provided in this announcement does not change Ørsted’s previous financial guidance for the financial year 2021 or the announced expected investment level for 2021. For further information please contact: Ørsted Group Media RelationsTom Christiansen+45 99 55 60 17tomlc@orsted.dk Ørsted Investor Relations Allan Bødskov Andersen +45 99 55 79 96alban@orsted.dk About ØrstedThe Ørsted vision is a world that runs entirely on green energy. Ørsted develops, constructs, and operates offshore and onshore wind farms, solar farms, energy storage facilities, and bioenergy plants, and provides energy products to its customers. Ørsted ranks as the world’s most sustainable energy company in Corporate Knights' 2021 index of the Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world and is recognised on the CDP Climate Change A List as a global leader on climate action. Headquartered in Denmark, Ørsted employs 6,179 people. Ørsted's shares are listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen (Orsted). In 2020, the group's revenue was DKK 52.6 billion (EUR 7.1 billion). Visit orsted.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Attachment Baltica 2 and 3 CfD award

  • Globe Newswire

    Ørsted brings in Norges Bank Investment Management as a partner in Borssele 1 & 2

    Today, Ørsted has signed an agreement with Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), who will be acquiring a 50 % ownership share of Ørsted’s 752 MW Borssele 1 & 2 Offshore Wind Farm, which was commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2020 and generates green power to the equivalent of one million households’ annual power consumption in the Netherlands. The total value of the transaction is approx. EUR 1.375 billion (approx. DKK 10.2 billion) which is to be paid upon closing of the transaction. Closing is expected around summer 2021. As part of the agreement, Ørsted will continue to provide long-term operations and maintenance (O&M) services from its O&M base at the Port of Vlissingen in the Netherlands. Furthermore, Ørsted will provide NBIM with balancing services and a long-term route to market for the renewable electricity generated by Borssele 1 & 2. Today’s agreement marks NBIM’s first investment in unlisted renewable energy infrastructure. Martin Neubert, Chief Commercial Officer and Deputy Group CEO of Ørsted, says: “As one of the world’s largest institutional investors, Norges Bank Investment Management is making a difference by making sustainable investments. We’re delighted to welcome NBIM as partner on Borssele 1 & 2, which is a landmark project for the Netherlands’ transition to renewable energy, and we’re pleased to support NBIM in their strategy to invest in renewable energy infrastructure assets.” Mie Holstad, Chief Real Assets Officer at Norges Bank Investment Management, says: “We are very pleased to partner on Borssele 1&2 with Ørsted, the market leader in offshore wind. We are excited to have made our first unlisted investment in renewable energy infrastructure, and we look forward to working alongside Ørsted on delivering green energy to Dutch households.” Steven Engels, General Manager for Ørsted Benelux, says: “I look forward to working with NBIM on delivering green power to the Dutch energy mix. Borssele 1 & 2 kickstarted the Netherlands’ ambitious programme for offshore wind build-out and will help the country meet its 2030 carbon reduction goals. We remain committed to the Netherlands and the Zeeland region to contribute to the energy transition for many years to come. At the same time, the wind farm creates benefits for the local economy by supporting employment and skills development.” The divestment to NBIM is subject to regulatory approvals. The information provided in this announcement does not change Ørsted’s previous financial guidance for the 2021 financial year of an EBITDA excluding new partnership agreements of DKK 15-16 bn or the announced expected investment level for 2021. In addition to the above, the EBITDA effect in 2021 from the Borssele 1 & 2 partnership, is expected to amount to around DKK 5 billion. Facts about Borssele 1 & 2 The largest operational offshore wind farm in the Netherlands – and the second-largest operational offshore wind farm in the world – with an installed capacity of 752 MW.Located 23 km off the coast of the Dutch region of Zeeland at water depths ranging from 14 to 36 m.The 94 Siemens Gamesa 8 MW offshore wind turbines of Borssele 1 & 2 generate enough power to annually cover one million households with green energy in the Netherlands.Fully commissioned in Q4 2020. For further information, please contact: Ørsted Media RelationsMichael Korsgaard+45 99 55 94 25mikon@orsted.dk Ørsted Investor RelationsAllan Bødskov Andersen + 45 99 55 79 96IR@orsted.dk NBIM Media Relations Line Aaltvedt+47 948 54 656press@nbim.no About ØrstedThe Ørsted vision is a world that runs entirely on green energy. Ørsted develops, constructs, and operates offshore and onshore wind farms, solar farms, energy storage facilities, and bioenergy plants, and provides energy products to its customers. Ørsted ranks as the world’s most sustainable energy company in Corporate Knights' 2021 index of the Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world and is recognised on the CDP Climate Change A List as a global leader on climate action. Headquartered in Denmark, Ørsted employs 6,179 people. Ørsted's shares are listed on Nasdaq Copenhagen (Orsted). In 2020, the group's revenue was DKK 52.6 billion (EUR 7.1 billion). Visit orsted.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter About Norges Bank Investment Management Norges Bank Investment Management is the asset management division of Norges Bank, the Norwegian central bank. As manager of the Government Pension Fund Global, its mission is to safeguard and build financial wealth for future generations in Norway. Norges Bank Investment Management aims for the highest possible long-term return within the investment mandate set by the Ministry of Finance. The fund is invested globally in equity, fixed income and real assets and had investments worth 10,914 billion Norwegian kroner (EUR 1,042 billion) as at 31 December 2020. Norges Bank Investment Management was given a mandate to invest in unlisted renewable energy infrastructure from 1 January 2020. Attachment EN_NFO_Borssele_partnership