Keeping the Semiconductor Industry on the Path to Sustainability

Published Date

May 22, 2023


6 minutes

Written By

ACL Digital

In recent years, semiconductor companies have primarily focused on addressing the chip shortage by ramping up their supply. However, there are now pressing customer concerns and a growing need for sustainability to be a top priority. Customers increasingly call on suppliers, including semiconductor companies, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero carbon emissions throughout their supply chain. In response, many semiconductor companies are making ambitious sustainability commitments to combat global warming and retain business.

We cannot overstate the crucial role that semiconductors play as the foundation of modern technology. They are ubiquitous in smartphones, computers, gaming devices, planes, cars, clean energy technology, and many other products. As businesses, institutions, and governments worldwide strive to tackle climate change, semiconductors will play a vital role in expediting and promoting the widespread adoption of sustainable technology.

For example, let's examine the move toward an electric mobility-dominated future. To combat climate change and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, the EU recently announced a tentative agreement to gradually eliminate the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars by 2035. This transition heavily relies on semiconductors, as the average electric car requires approximately 2,000 semiconductor chips - twice as many as a non-electric vehicle.

Moreover, in 2022, particular attention was given to semiconductors due to the environmentally taxing production process and the fact that devices utilizing semiconductors continue to consume power throughout their lifetime. It's evident that implementing sustainable manufacturing methods and creating energy-efficient device functionality would be a significant leap toward reducing overall emissions.

Green Energy Technology Development

Semiconductors play a pivotal role in advancing and applying green energy technology and enhancing the energy efficiency of electronics. However, the semiconductor industry must take steps to decarbonize if it intends to contribute to a more sustainable future. The IT industry, responsible for roughly 2-3% of global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions, is projected to experience a 7-20% surge in global energy demands by 2030, according to a recent Harvard study cited by Ars Technica.

Collaboration for Decarbonization: The Semiconductor Industry's Efforts

The Semiconductor Industry is tackling its environmental impact through collaboration. Semiconductor Climate Consortium (SCC) members collaborate to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across their operations, value chains, and industries where semiconductors are employed. As the repercussions of climate change worsen worldwide, many organizations are assessing climate-related hazards that affect the semiconductor value chain.

Embracing the Smart Revolution: Unleashing Sustainability with Intelligent Devices

In an ever-evolving world where sustainability takes center stage, the potential offered by device-level intelligence is genuinely remarkable. Enter the realm of the "artificial intelligence of things" (AIoT), a new class of products with tremendous potential. Consider this: even a seemingly insignificant feature like human presence detection can revolutionize how Smart devices operate. Imagine your Smart devices automatically powering off when there's no one in the room, thanks to this simple addition.

Let's take the example of Smart speakers. Typically, they consume 4W of power while continuously listening for a keyword. However, an intelligent smart speaker equipped with imaging AI can determine whether there's human presence before actively listening, dramatically reducing standby power consumption by 10x for 75% of the day. That's a substantial energy-saving measure!

But it doesn't stop there. Picture a thermostat aware of human presence—a device that could save more energy than it consumes. It presents yet another exciting opportunity for net energy conservation.

Looking into the future, we can empower these gadgets further. Imagine enabling them to purchase energy, automate domestic tasks, and gather and process sophisticated data. A washing machine that autonomously trades for power based on the best-priced supplier, considering the planet's well-being—that's the kind of innovative thinking we could embrace.

Integrating AIoT functionality into existing household electronics can revolutionize our lives in the short- to medium term. This year, if companies are willing, we have the power to make an immediate impact on emissions and lay the foundation for future advancements. By re-evaluating the devices we already have, we can pave the way for far-reaching sophistication and contribute to a more sustainable future. Embrace the smart revolution, and together we can unleash the true potential of sustainability.


The good news is that the semiconductor industry is taking steps to address its environmental impact. The Semiconductor Climate Consortium (SCC) is a leading example of this. The SCC is a group of semiconductor companies that are working together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The SCC is making progress. In 2021, the SCC members reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 10%. They are committed to reducing their emissions by 50% by 2030.

The SCC is just one example of the semiconductor industry's commitment to sustainability. Many other semiconductor companies are also taking steps to reduce their environmental impact. These efforts are important. It is estimated that the semiconductor industry accounts for about 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing the semiconductor industry's environmental impact is essential to addressing climate change. The semiconductor industry can lead the way by making sustainability a priority. Here are some ways that the semiconductor industry can lead the way on sustainability:

Invest in renewable energy. The semiconductor industry can use its purchasing power to drive demand for renewable energy.

Develop more energy-efficient products. The semiconductor industry can develop new technologies that use less energy. Collaborate with other industries. The semiconductor industry can work with other industries to develop more sustainable solutions. By taking these steps, the semiconductor industry can help to create a more sustainable future.

Imagine a future where Smart devices automatically power off when no one is present, thermostats save more energy than they consume, and household appliances autonomously trade for the most sustainable energy sources. The semiconductor industry can lead the way toward a more sustainable future by prioritizing decarbonization, collaborating to reduce emissions, and harnessing the potential of intelligent devices. Let us seize this opportunity together and unleash the true potential of sustainability to benefit our planet and future generations.

About the Author

ACL Digital