Keynote Address by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at Infineon’s OktoberTech Asia Pacific 2022 on 13 October 2022
Dr Rutger Wijburg, Chief Operations Officer, Infineon
Mr C S Chua, President and Managing Director, Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific Pte Ltd
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to Infineon’s OktoberTech Asia Pacific 2022. This year’s theme focuses on “Driving Decarbonisation & Digitalisation. Together”. Allow me to highlight the important role of the semiconductor industry in driving Singapore’s decarbonisation agenda, and how it can do so through ambition, innovation, and collaboration.
2 As Dr Rutger Wijburg was sharing about Infineon’s technologies and how they help in areas such as smart e-mobility and urban farming, it sounded very familiar to me as I wear two hats in the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment. These are areas which we are also looking into. As Singapore is short of resources and alternative energy constrained, we are looking to harness technology to reach our net zero climate ambition.
Strong growth of the semiconductor industry
3 The semiconductor industry has grown significantly over the years. Globally, the Semiconductor Industry Association announced that the industry shipped a record of 1.15 trillion semiconductor units in 2021, with a highest ever US$555.9 billion in industry sales. Locally, the industry is Singapore’s largest manufacturing sub-sector today, accounting for around seven per cent of our GDP.
4 The Government will continue to help semiconductor companies anchor R&D and manufacturing activities in Singapore. We are already supporting companies to capture growth opportunities from the mega trend of digitalisation such as Artificial Intelligence (“AI”), the Internet of Things (“IoT”) and 5G. We will continue to do so to capture growth opportunities from another important mega trend – decarbonisation.
Why the semiconductor industry needs to tackle climate change
5 Let me explain why the semiconductor industry must decarbonise urgently. The threat of climate change is an existential one for the world. However, the weakening global economy and the energy crisis in Europe could cause nations to put climate adaptation and mitigation on the back burner, as they tackle other urgent and pressing issues. In reality, theworld needs to act now to drastically reduce global emissions to stay on the path to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
6 Companies play a critical role in finding ways to minimise the irreversible damage and adapt effectively to the impact of climate change. The semiconductor industry’s role in this endeavour is challenging yet pivotal. It is both an enabler of a climate resilient future, and a contributor to emissions.On one hand, semiconductors are at the heart of many green innovations such as electric vehicles and solar panels. On the other hand, information and computing technology are projected to account for as much as 20 per cent of global energy demand by 2030, with chip manufacturing accounting for most of its carbon footprint.
7 Decarbonisation will be challenging, but absolutely necessary for companies to thrive in a low-carbon future. As the Government pushes our sustainability efforts under the Singapore Green Plan 2030, sustainability will be a new engine for jobs and growth. Companies that harness sustainability as a competitive edge can become more efficient, reduce costs, and better meet increasing shareholders’ and customers’ expectations for greener products and services.
Bold ambition as the first step to decarbonisation
8 The first step towards decarbonisation comes from setting a bold yet realistic ambition. In recent years, many governments have declared net zero targets. I am heartened that more companies in the semiconductor industry have also joined the movement to declare their longer-term climate goals. Infineon, for example, has declared 2030 as the year to become carbon-neutral.
9 The Government will support the semiconductor industry in reaching net zero. As Infineon has pointed out in its Position Paper on Climate Neutrality, the accelerated expansion of renewables to drive electrification of various sectors is needed for a sustainable and climate-friendly economy. Singapore’s efforts to decarbonise the power sector will help semiconductor companies to reduce their carbon footprint from electricity consumption. Singapore is piloting the import of up to 100 megawatts (MW) each of low-carbon or clean electricity from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Laos. For the local semiconductor industry, the Government will facilitate discussions between potential importers and manufacturers, the latter as off-takers under Singapore’s long-term electricity import roadmap.
10 We must continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the journey towards net zero. In 2020, Singapore declared that we would achieve net zero emissions as soon as viable in the second half of the century. Just last month, only two years on from that declaration, we concluded our public consultation on raising our ambition to reach net zero by 2050. In the same month, we launched a Green Nation pledge where individuals and organisations can collectively pledge to make Singapore our green, liveable, and climate-resilient home. I encourage semiconductor companies to join us in taking the pledge through declaring a net zero emissions year no later than 2050.
Innovation to drive decarbonisation
11 Innovation is the second step towards decarbonisation. Product innovation in chips is key to greener operations for other industries. As chips become smaller, lighter, and faster, they require less materials to produce and less energy to operate. For example, Infineon has reported that products enabled by its power management integrated circuits (“ICs”) chips have contributed to about 72 million tonnes of carbon emission savings by reducing energy consumption and improving the performance of electric devices.
12 Operational innovation too can make a difference. It has reduced emissions from manufacturing operations locally. Some of these innovation efforts include pursuing energy efficiency improvement opportunities in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and pump systems, and adopting abatement technologies for direct emissions such as plasma and thermal scrubbers. Other areas where innovations could be explored include system level solutions for future fab operations. For example, SP Group recently announced Singapore’s largest district cooling system at the ST Ang Mo Kio TechnoPark. Estimated to be operational in 2025. the system will help reduce annual carbon emissions by up to 120,000 tonnes, or the equivalent of 109,090 fewer cars off the road.
13 The semiconductor industry has the potential to innovate more in resource sustainability. For example, as one of the largest water consuming industries in Singapore, improvements in the water recycling rate for semiconductor plants here can go a long way in enhancing our water security. While the rate has been improving, I encourage the semiconductor industry to explore more water recycling and water efficiency innovation opportunities with PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, tapping on the Water Efficiency Fund and Industrial Water Solutions Demonstration Fund.
Collaboration to accelerate the decarbonisation journey
14 This brings me to my third point on collaboration. The semiconductor industry is in a good position to collaborate with stakeholders in adjacent industries to develop new solutions. Collaborations such as the VinFast Infineon Competence Center can potentially accelerate the co-development of future solutions for smart mobility, using Infineon’s portfolio of semiconductor products.
15 Big companies must also appreciate the value which Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) bring as innovative solution providers. I am heartened that Infineon is partnering closely with start-ups through Infineon’s Co-Innovation Space and the upcoming collaboration with LG Sciencepark to facilitate the exchange of Korean start-ups to Singapore and vice versa. We look forward to more start-ups developing new ideas in sustainability, smart-homes, and smart-mobility.
16 Semiconductor companies can also collaborate as an industry to develop a trained workforce to capture opportunities in decarbonisation. The Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association is already working closely with its members and the Government to upskill and reskill our workforce. For instance, the EDB-Industry Post-Graduate Programme Grant for Integrated Circuit Design supports post-graduate students looking for industry-relevant training in integrated circuit design. Mid-career jobseekers who are keen to move into the industry can also acquire new skills through Career Conversion Programmes. Going forward, I would like to encourage the industry to develop sustainability training specific to the semiconductor industry to equip your employees with the skills to drive the decarbonisation agenda.
17 Let me conclude. Decarbonisation is a megatrend which the semiconductor industry must ride on through bold ambition, greater innovation, and cross-sectoral collaboration to thrive in a low carbon future. The Government is committed to working alongside you to push the boundaries, innovating to capture growth opportunities in decarbonisation while combating the existential threat of climate change.
Let me wish all of you a most fruitful OktoberTech. Thank you.