Outlook 2024: An Ever Growing Imperative

Focus on Sustainability in all things, from product performance to manufacturing processes and supply chain

Sustainability is an ever-present and growing imperative. As an industry, we are at the forefront of the drive to innovate towards this goal. We must also accept the challenge of creating these high-performance, high added-value products using sustainable processes and practices. There is constant pressure to use energy and materials as efficiently as possible without compromising the quality and durability of our products. We must all strive to develop creative approaches that will help sustain our world's resources and explore every opportunity to keep improving sustainability now and in the future.

We’re All In This

The recent UN Climate Study Report emphasizes the urgent need to speed up global decarbonization efforts to address the escalating frequency and severity of extreme weather events caused by rising temperatures. The semiconductor industry, a crucial player in global decarbonization and electrification, recognises its role in environmental stewardship and has taken steps to align with global standards and initiatives aimed at improving industrial environmental performance. These include the environmental standard ISO 14001 and Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). Many chip makers, worldwide, have programs ongoing such as water conservation and recycling, and are modernising their operations to improve energy efficiency. In addition, the industry has collaborated with suppliers to improve visibility into environmental practices and carbon emissions. As businesses strive to incorporate sustainability throughout their supply chains, transparency becomes increasingly important.

As designers and manufacturers of semiconductors, we prioritise staying up to date with the latest technologies while being mindful of our environmental impact. Sustainability has always been crucial to technological advances, and now more than ever, engineers recognize its growing importance. When developing new systems and processes, we must consider both economic growth and ecological responsibility.’

We continue to create the future of sustainability, leveraging advancements in materials science, nanotechnology engineering, and renewable energy sources as they continue to emerge. Innovative strategies being implemented today are helping towards creating a more sustainable world.

Work in Progress

With a growing global population and scarce resources, it's vital to ensure sustainable outcomes for current and future generations. However, companies must take steps right now to set us up for a more sustainable tomorrow. From assessing energy consumption during production processes to reducing packaging waste in electronics components, we can lead the charge towards a greener product lifecycle with smart strategies.

As the world’s reliance on electronic devices continues, the semiconductor industry must maintain its focus on sustainability to achieve a net-zero future. At Winbond, we thought about how the decisions we make about the sustainability of our products and the impact our actions can have on business performance and our long-term reputation. Producing any type of semiconductor components – whether these are memories, processors, power devices, communication ICs, security chips, application-specific products - is energy-intensive and requires significant resources. The semiconductor industry currently contributes significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions, with 31% coming from this sector alone. It is thus vital for our industry to adopt sustainable practices. This involves using renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, reducing waste, and exploring new materials and technologies.

Investing in renewable energy sources for semiconductor production not only benefits the environment but also meets the growing demand for sustainability from customers. With increasing pressure on suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the supply chain, semiconductor companies are intensifying their efforts.

Action at All Levels

Winbond has committed to strong climate change governance, with our TCFD management framework now in place that formalizes board-level engagement with setting strategies and climate-related reporting. There is action at all levels in the organization, including programs such as green product design, digitalizing information systems, and improving production efficiency.

At the Kaohsiung Fab, our state-of-the-art smart factory in Taiwan, we are utilizing automation technology, artificial intelligence, and big data to enhance production efficiency while keeping energy consumption low. We are also actively enhancing and optimizing processes to reduce energy consumption, waste production, and heat generation. The fab achieved ISO 50001 Energy Management System certification in 2022.

Obviously, low-power LEDs are the lighting of choice throughout the plant. However, many other important effective initiatives are under way, such as conserving large amounts of energy by recycling waste heat. Industrial companies in general, historically, have tended to operate processes that generate unwanted heat as an unwanted by-product separately from those that consume heat, expensively running cooling systems that dissipate the unwanted heat into the environment. At Kaohsiung, we are passing process cooling water into heat pumps to recover energy that would otherwise be wasted, and instead use this directly to heat other processes elsewhere in the factory.

We have also adopted energy-conserving water chillers, working with the National Taiwan University to create an energy consumption model that leverages external information sources such as six-hour weather forecasts from the Central Weather Bureau. Using this information, the chiller settings are continuously optimized to ensure the outlet water temperature is never lower than necessary. We calculate that this has reduced the energy consumed by 2.8%, which is a significant saving.

With these advanced heat pumps and chillers, as well as energy-saving boilers, smart air conditioning, and others, we introduced a total of 21 energy-saving measures in 2022. We saved 35.9 million kWh of electricity and 16,485 tons of GHG emissions. We have been working with the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association and the World Semiconductor Council to reduce perfluorocarbon (PFC) emissions and have achieved a cumulative reduction of approximately 2.1 million tons over the past 15 years. We have also demonstrated our commitment to sustainable energy conservation and carbon reduction through initiatives like our "Zero Carbon Family Day," where nearly 7,000 employees and their families promote green living and net-zero emissions.

We all have a responsibility to behave in more environmentally friendly and sustainable ways, as individuals and as employees or organizations that consume resources and generate waste as they produce goods and services that add value and enhance the quality of life for billions of people across the planet. It’s an issue that will dominate 2024 and beyond.

While the industry's latest commitments are more stringent than previous measures, there is still work to be done to limit emissions to the level required by the Paris Agreement. As production grows to meet rising demand, emissions also increase, making it crucial to develop new or improved decarbonization technologies and expand the supply of renewable energy. By adopting a comprehensive approach and investing in sustainable practices, semiconductor companies can attract and retain customers while contributing to the global fight against climate change.



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