Semiconductors play a critical role in enabling the development of green and low-carbon technologies, helping to reduce carbon emissions and promote a sustainable future. Jean-Louis CHAMPSEIX, Group VP, Head of Corporate Sustainability, STMicroelectronics explains how ST solutions and products, right from its fabs to end product, are contributing towards a green and low carbon footprint.
How does IC technology like 5G, edge computing, power devices and others enable green, low-carbon economy and society? What is the focus of STMicroelectronics towards green and low carbon strategy?
Jean-Louis CHAMPSEIX: Sustainability has been a guiding principle in ST since the early 1990s. Today, it is integrated into every part of our business to so we bring innovative solutions to environmental and social challenges. As one concrete example among many, we launched our Sustainable Technology program in 2011. It implements a global approach to ensure we take sustainability into consideration when we develop new products. This creates value for our company, our customers, and society in general. Our Sustainable Technology program is a unique product Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach to semiconductors (see link with ST brochure¹). This approach is integrated in our product and technology development and covers chip life cycle from cradle to grave. LCA is performed in term of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as water and water eutrophication, for example.
In ST, we create products for a sustainable world, in a sustainable way. We are convinced that technology can play a key role to help solve environmental, social, and societal challenges. We therefore believe in developing responsible products that enhance quality of life or user experience while minimizing environmental impact.
In general, power devices with better conversion efficiency (i.e. that consume less energy) help enormously in moving to a low carbon economy. The impact can be seen in mobility (hybrid and electrical cars), infrastructure (lower power consumption, better efficiency in transmitting RF signals), and in general, in all applications where power devices are used. Efficiency in power conversion is critical in the deployment and adoption of new energies, including solar and battery-powered applications.
In enabling the move to 5G and other low latency, high throughput communication systems, these support remote meeting/activities and, as a consequence, save trips by car, plane, etc.
ST for many years has targeted electric mobility, power and energy, and the Internet of Things and connectivity, which contribute to the growth and sustainability of smart cities smart buildings, and smart industry. Our efforts include enabling and better utilizing renewable energy and smart grid. These are the main drivers of our growth, which allow us to sustain our performance across market cycles.
The industry is facing a downturn in the semiconductor market cycle. How does ST’s green and low carbon program likely help the semiconductor industry?
Jean-Louis CHAMPSEIX: ST contributes to the shift from traditional cars powered by internal combustion engines to smarter, greener mobility solutions. ST’s car electrification solutions enable makers to build better, more affordable electric vehicles that allow drivers to reduce air pollution and mitigate global climate change.
A second key driver to support decarbonization is related to energy, and especially renewable energy. We contribute to the transition to greener energy sources with high-power, high-efficiency power components that lower loss in energy conversion in solar panels, wind turbines, and smart grids using wide bandgap semiconductor technologies like Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN).
In the past years, a growing number of chipmakers have been committed to green development, for example, green energy use and power savings in the manufacturing process, reduced power consumption in corporate data centers, and others. How much potential does the semiconductor industry have for green and low carbon development? Can you highlight ST’s plan?
Jean-Louis CHAMPSEIX: The whole Semiconductor industry has been engaged for a long time on minimizing as much as possible its impact on the environment, especially related to manufacturing. For low carbon, the 2 main aspects are direct emissions, mainly due to usage of perfluorinated gases (PFCs), and energy (mainly electricity), which counts as indirect emissions (GHG protocol Scope 2). In those both domains, ST has been a longtime pioneer. We’ve actively addressed these challenges since 1994. Concretely, it means we’ve installed abatement systems in all Fabs to reduce PFC emissions as much as technically possible. ST is recognized by Its peers in this field as leading the PFC-abatement task force at the World Semiconductors Council for more than 15 years.
We have also paved the way with renewable electricity in the semiconductors industry, increasing the percentage of certified green electricity we use year by year. In 2022 62% of our used electricity was from renewable sources. We made a commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2027 and are on track with our commitment to meet 80% of our electricity needs from renewable sources in 2025 and 100% in 2027 as one element of our Carbon neutrality commitment.
With all our action plans, we are confident that we can eliminate all possible emissions and will use offsets to balance any trace of remaining emissions. ST will be Carbon neutral in 2027, confirming our leadership in Sustainability.
More information on ST’s sustainability efforts can be found at https://www.st.com/content/st_com/en/about/sustainability.html