Chip Fabs Go Green


At this week’s COP27 climate conference in Egypt, attendees will have a new group to contend with: an alliance of more than 60 companies involved in the electronics supply chain. Called the Semiconductor Climate Consortium, it formed last week in collaboration with SEMI, the industry association for the electronics manufacturing and design supply chain. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions “throughout the electronics value chain,” according to SEMI. The founding members have all affirmed support for the Paris Agreement, which is aimed at limiting global warming to 1.5 celsius.

Founding members include some of the biggest owners of semiconductor fabs, including GlobalFoundries, Intel, Micron, Samsung Electronics , SK Hynix, and TSMC. But it also includes some fabless companies such as AMD, Google, and Microsoft. Suppliers of equipment, chemicals, and packaging technology are also well represented among the founders.

“SCC members recognize the climate impact of the industry and the need for a heightened focus on collaboration to drive sustainable growth across the value chain,” Mousumi Bhat, vice president of global sustainability programs at SEMI, said in a press release. “We look forward to setting meaningful sustainability goals and helping ensure a healthy environment for future generations.”

SCC’s next step is to elect a governing council to establish its priorities aligned with the general objectives of collaboration on best practices, transparency about emissions, and ambitions for decarbonization.

The formation of the consortium comes at a time when construction of new fabs is on the upswing, particularly in the United States. The CHIPS and Science Act, passed in July, provides US $52 billion to expand manufacturing in the country. The U.S. Department of Commerce named the first members of the CHIPS Act industrial advisory committee in September, and there is significant overlap between SCC member companies and those on the committee.

We have to get in now, because of all the investment that’s coming,” says Bhat. “We are optimistic that we will affect particularly the greenfields”—new cutting edge fabs under construction. Some of that began happening even before the consortium formed. Intel recently broke ground on new advanced fabs in Ohio. Intel’s goal is to have the new site powered 100 percent by renewable electricity and to achieve net positive water use and send no waste to landfill, Intel said when first announcing the project. The SCC also hopes to influence the expansion of existing fabs using older process nodes, which were at the heart of the automotive chip shortage, says Bhat.