At a time when demands for semiconductors are strong, extreme climate change is making the tight supply even harsh. According to Business Korea, the Austin-located Samsung semiconductor fab is faced with water shortage risen from the the recent snowstorm and frozen rivers. Similar phenomena are seen in Taiwan, home to TSMC.
Large volume of water is consumed in semiconductor manufacturing for a range of purposes from equipment cooling to wafer surface cleaning, but Taiwan faced a typhoonless summer last year for the first time in half a century, which typically brings large quantities of rain to the island, serving as one of the main sources of water.
Water shortages led the reservoir which supplies water to the Hsin Chu science park where the TSMC fabs is located to dry up. The tank is currently only 15.8% full and the level is continuously dropping.
A drought contingency meeting was recently held to tackle the issue, which raised the industrial water conservation level from 7% to 11% for Hsin Chu, Miaoli and Taichung areas, but the problem remains unresolved.
TSMC had faced water shortages in the past few years and had set forth a series of long-term relevant risk-management strategies, including to reduce unit water consumption by 30% by 2030, increase the replacement rate of regenerated water by more than 30% and a water pollution composite indicator 30% above effluent standards.
It is yet to see if the semiconductor fabs can manage the current resource shortage.