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Dark Side of Chip Mania

In the next few years, there will be about 41 new semiconductor fab units that will be operating and the cost of investment in them would be around $500Bn of which $80-90Bn is subsidised by governments. This would provide jobs and skills to local talent along with a nation securing itself from unexpected disruptions in future.


As everything progressive comes at a cost, this expansion would not be any different. The crucial resources required to operate these fab units are water and power. And both of them are at a critical stage of use and impact on the future civilisation. 


According to the TSMC 2023 annual report, the total water usage increased to 113,610,463 cubic meters from 104,682,272 cubic meters in 2022. This is after putting all its efforts into recycling and reusing the water 3-4 times. 


Within the same year, it used 2,590 GWH in renewable energy which accounts for 11.2% of total energy use. While the efforts are ongoing to increase the renewable portion the process will take time as new plants come online. 


This scale of expansion globally of a single industry in a short period might be happening after decades of it not more. However, governments need to make sure that the same units do not take away resources from other sectors or households that also require the same resources. 

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