How Relevant is the European Ecodesign Directive for the Semiconductor Industry?

Schischke, Karsten; Proske, Marina; Stobbe, Lutz
(Fraunhofer IZM, Berlin, Germany)

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The European Ecodesign Directive adopted in 2005 and recasted in 2009 intends to regulate the life cycle of energy-related products through a multitude of product regulations. The semiconductor industry by now has rather benefitted from this policy, as the market demand for energy efficient semiconductors increased in recent years: Powerful and cost-effective microcontrollers help to save energy in home appliances, ICs control compact fluorescent lamps and LED lighting technology, and the evolution of power MOSFETs increased efficiency of power supplies significantly in recent years, leading also to the termination of the Energy Star programme for external power supplies – due to the tremendous progress achieved. Now, the semiconductor industry in Europe might be affected in a totally different way by the ecodesign policy, which extended its focus from home appliances, consumer electronics and office equipment to industrial equipment, including ovens and machine tools: Although no detailed measures to regulate industrial equipment have been proposed yet, several options are under consideration currently, which will be relevant for equipment to be installed in European cleanrooms. These could include recognition of SEMI S23 Guide for Conservation of Energy, Utilities and Materials as a sub-standard under the Ecodesign Directive, the implementation of power management features, or Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for ovens. Such kinds of regulations are expected short-term. In the long-term the IC industry might face a third type of effects, stemming from the Ecodesign Directive: Although the directive puts in place a framework, which allows a regulation of the whole product life cycle the focus by now has been on energy use efficiency of products. Material and resource consumption for manufacturing the components of an electronics product has not been addressed yet, but the European Commission launched a study to explore possibilities to address material efficiency better. Already a while ago the European Passive Components industry was concerned by the possibility, that environmental production data might be requested throughout the supply chain, mandated by the Ecodesign Directive. The industry launched an initiative to be prepared for such kind of requirements. Semiconductor manufacturers, being even more relevant in terms of material and energy consumption in the supply chain of electronics, might be affected by similar declaration requirements, as carbon footprint data and material content data might be an option for European policy makers. The presentation will recap the developments under the Ecodesign Framework Directive 2009/125/EC and will outline a roadmap, how the evolution of this policy might impact the semiconductor industry in the future.

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