Insider report of semiconductor value chain’s carbon emissions

21st September 2023
Sheryl Miles

The SEMI Semiconductor Climate Consortium (SCC) has issued its first report of the semiconductor ecosystem’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions profile, an in-depth analysis of the semiconductor value chain’s carbon footprint and priority-ranked carbon emission sources for the industry to address.

Titled 'Transparency, Ambition, and Collaboration: Advancing the Climate Agenda of the Semiconductor Value Chain,’ the report provides the most comprehensive sustainability data available on the semiconductor ecosystem.

Key takeaways from the report compiled by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), under the direction of the SCC Baselining, Ambition-Setting, and Roadmapping (BAR) Working Group, include:

  • Baseline of value chain emissions: Semiconductor devices produced in 2021 have a lifetime CO2e footprint of 500 megatonne (MT) – 16% from supply chain, 21% from manufacturing, and 63% from device use.  
  • Low-carbon energy is a key lever: Bold and decisive investments in low-carbon energy sources can address more than 80% of industry emissions primarily by reducing the carbon footprint stemming from electricity usage for semiconductor manufacturing and for powering chips in electronics devices.  
  • Investment and innovation to solve remaining 16%: Emissions from the supply chain and from manufacturing process gases will require considerable research and development to address, necessitating investments now.  
  • Future manufacturing emissions scenarios: Current government and company commitments will substantially reduce manufacturing emissions, but they are still forecasted to overshoot the carbon budget for the 1.5°C pathway.  
  • Dilemma of value chain emissions: Digital technologies that require semiconductors play a crucial role in reducing energy use and emissions across industries while simultaneously adding to the overall carbon footprint.

“While the SCC’s work on behalf of the industry is just getting started, its sustainability report clearly outlines where chip industry efforts initially should be focused and how we can make the greatest impact for SEMI members and the semiconductor value chain at large,” said Mousumi Bhat, Vice President of Sustainability at SEMI. “Thanks to the BCG team for their collaboration on this seminal work.”

“For our industry to effectively accelerate climate action, it is crucial that we have a shared view on our industry’s baseline carbon footprint, expected trajectory of future emissions, and available improvement levers,” said Marijn Vervoorn, BAR co-lead and Director of Sustainability Strategy at ASML. “This report, including its clear view on data gaps and required data quality improvements, provides the foundation for an ambitious industry roadmap showing the tangible action required to achieve both short-term objectives and Net Zero emissions in 2050.”

“Our work is far from finished,” said Chris Jones, BAR co-lead and Business Development Manager at Edwards. “For the SCC to be successful, we need all three stages of baselining, setting our ambitions (targets) and curating the roadmap of how we will get there. Net Zero is our ultimate goal for SCC members, but the many steps to get there is the detail we are working out.”

“The BCG team is proud to be part of this groundbreaking research to build the most comprehensive baseline of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, helping to focus our Climate Change and Sustainability efforts where they are most impactful,” said Ramiro Palma, Ph.D., BCG Managing Director and Partner, Global Semiconductor Practice Area co-lead. “We thank the SCC and its member companies for all their engagement to make this study their own in a step toward a greener future.”

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