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The role of semiconductors in the renewable energy transition

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Earth.Org or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Semiconductors are crucial for modern technology and the green transition, powering everything from smartphones to electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy systems
However, their production is resource-intensive, demanding significant amounts of energy and water, and often relies on fossil fuels, raising concerns about the environmental cost of semiconductor manufacturing.

🔭 The context: The chip industry is facing a paradox; while semiconductors are vital for decarbonization and the transition towards a green economy, their manufacturing process is not sustainable.
Advanced chips, such as the 3nm chips, are expected to consume up to 7.7 billion kilowatt-hours annually
Yet, semiconductors are indispensable for green technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, and EVs, suggesting a complex relationship between semiconductor production and environmental sustainability.

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Semiconductors enable significant advancements in energy efficiency and are key to expanding renewable energy and electric mobility
However, the environmental footprint of their production process, including high carbon emissions and water use, poses a challenge to achieving a net-zero future.

⏭️ What's next: The semiconductor industry is taking steps towards sustainability, with major companies like TSMC and Intel committing to renewable energy and net-zero emissions goals. These efforts, along with increased focus on water conservation and reducing the use of polluting chemicals, are crucial for aligning semiconductor manufacturing with environmental goals.

💬 One quote: "For over a decade, semiconductor companies have been trying to mitigate the environmental impact of their business operations," reflecting the industry's growing recognition of its role in ensuring a sustainable future.

📈 One stat: The global stock of electric cars reached 10 million vehicles in 2020, a 43% increase over 2019, illustrating the growing demand for semiconductors in the green economy.

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