TSMC Builds Own Drought Treatment Plant in Taiwan

TSMC is working on a water treatment plant for its factories, which will allow the semiconductor manufacturer to use more wastewater for the production of chips from 2021. The company is doing this while Taiwan is struggling with an ongoing drought.

TSMC reports to Japan’s Nikkei that the company is building the wastewater treatment plant in the southern Taiwan city of Tainan. Lora Ho, a senior vice president of TSMC, reports that water from the treatment plant is only for the Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer. The installation should be ready for use by the end of 2021.

The purification capacity of the installation must be gradually increased in the coming years. By 2024, the treatment plant should supply 67,000 tons of water daily to TSMC’s chip factories. Currently, the semiconductor manufacturer uses about 156,000 tons of water every day, Nikkei writes.

TSMC already recycles water. According to TSMC’s most recent Social Responsibility report, the semiconductor manufacturer used approximately 154 million tons of water in 2019, of which the company recycled 86.7 percent. However, only a small part of it is pure enough to be reused for the chip manufacturing process, Nikkei also writes. With the forthcoming water treatment plant, the company therefore wants to actually reuse more waste water for the production of semiconductors.

Taiwan, home to TSMC and several of its factories, is currently experiencing a historic drought, leaving the country suffering from water shortages. Chip manufacturing is one of Taiwan’s largest industries, but it also consumes a lot of water for semiconductor manufacturing. The sector is also suffering from the lack of water. This is in addition to the major chip shortages, which will last until 2022, according to TSMC. The TSMC CEO recently said that the water supply is tight, but that TSMC has prepared for such a risk. “We do not expect any material consequences for our activities,” said the CEO.

The Taiwanese government started rationing water use earlier this month because of the drought, Nikkei writes. The government is doing this by suspending the water supply in some cities for two days a week. That measure would last at least until the end of May, depending on the amount of precipitation in the coming period. The New York Times previously reported on the Taiwanese government’s controversial decision to shut down the irrigation systems of Taiwanese farms while chip companies continue to receive water.

A TSMC fab in Taiwan