Opinion

For Eco-friendly Memory Chips: SK hynix’s Milestone for Green Emission

By August 6, 2020 August 20th, 2020 No Comments

Climate change and greenhouse gases are no longer unfamiliar words, or issues that only apply to certain countries. While most people tend to think of climate change as ice caps melting down in polar regions, climate change is also changing the way of life in many other regions. For example, the distinctive four seasons in Korea are disappearing, with a cold winter arriving right after the hot summer ends.

Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing the international community, and SK hynix is proactive in our response. SK hynix continuously monitors global and regional climate change trends and their impact on both the company and the communities. SK hynix also regularly reports on greenhouse gas emissions, latest achievements against mid- and long-term goals, and the results of our energy efficiency efforts.

Greenhouse gases related to climate change are directly discharged through gases used in the semiconductor manufacturing processes, and the volume of indirect emissions is also substantial depending on the energy used.

Outlining SK hynix’s Efforts and Strategies

SK hynix has been collaborating with local governments and communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, through the enactment of related laws such as “Sustainable Development Act,” “Framework Act on Low Carbon, Green Growth,” and “Act on the Allocation and Trading of Greenhouse-Gas Emission Permits,” South Korean government has set national greenhouse gas reduction objectives, making notable efforts to comply with the guidelines set by the international community. To encourage reducing emissions, the government has set reduction targets within a certain period of time for each industrial sector and assigned quotas to companies.

The quotas allocated by the government are based on existing operating facilities and newly established facilities, and reduction efforts are carried out for each emission source. Sources of greenhouse gas emissions can be classified in many ways with different criteria, but for the most part, they can be divided into two categories: direct emission sources and indirect emission sources.

Figure 1. Six Major Greenhouse Gases

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Direct emission sources1 include the combustion of fuel from boilers and vehicles as well as and emissions from the process gases (PFC, SF6, etc.) used in the production of semiconductors. When it comes to indirect emission sources2, greenhouse gases are emitted in the production stage rather than the consumption stage, like in electric power or steam.

Chart. 1 Major Cases of Energy Efficiency Improvement

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SK hynix is taking great strides to reduce direct emission sources, especially for process gases. These are gases with a very high level of global warming potential (GWP)3 – several hundred to tens of thousands of times higher than that of carbon dioxide (CO2). SK hynix installs and operates greenhouse gas reduction devices before discharging these gases into the atmosphere, drastically reducing total greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, process gas emissions account for only around 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions of the company.

Figure. 2 Chemical Reaction of PFCs Gas Treatment

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Indirect emissions are the largest source of emissions by SK hynix, most of which are caused by electricity usage. To reduce electricity usage, SK hynix is actively introducing low-power equipment, and by applying the energy management system ISO50001, the company is enhancing energy efficiency and improving energy management related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Chart. 2 Potential Cost Reduction from Greenhouse Gas Reduction

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Aiming for more

In our “2022 ECO Vision”, SK hynix has outlined a series of plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through continuous efforts across our operations. SK hynix intends to lead the way for low-carbon semiconductor production plants by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (compared to the business-as-usual4 level in 2016) by 2022. With continued efforts through 2030, SK hynix plans to become a global leader in climate action over the next decade.

 

1Direct emissions: direct emissions of the six major greenhouse gases
2Indirect emissions: emissions resulted from electricity consumption
3Global Warming Potential (GWP): the heat absorbed by any greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, as a multiple of the heat that would be absorbed by the same mass of carbon dioxide (CO2). GWP is 1 for CO2. For other gases it depends on the gas and the time frame
4Business-as-usual (BAU): Total projected amount of emissions without any artificial measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions