Taiwan is facing a drought, and it has prioritised its computer chip business over farmers.

10-Apr-2021 Intellasia | NYTimes | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Officials are calling Taiwan’s drought its worst in more than half a century. And it is exposing the enormous challenges involved in hosting the island’s semiconductor industry, which is an increasingly indispensable node in the global supply chains for smartphones, cars and other keystones of modern life.

Chip makers use lots of water to clean their factories and wafers, the thin slices of silicon that make up the basis of the chips, Raymond Zhong and Amy Chang Chien report for The New York Times. In 2019, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s facilities in Hsinchu consumed 63,000 tonnes of water a day, according to the company, or more than 10 percent of the supply from two local reservoirs.

In recent months, the government has:

* flown planes and burned chemicals to seed the clouds above reservoirs.

* built a seawater desalination plant in Hsinchu, home to TSMC’s headquarters, and a pipeline connecting the city with the rainier north.

* rationed water, reduced nighttime water pressure and ordered industries to cut use. Some companies, including TSMC, have hauled in truckloads of water from other areas.

But the most sweeping measure has been the halt on irrigation, which affects 183,000 acres of farmland, around a fifth of Taiwan’s irrigated land.

The Taiwanese public appears to have decided that rice farming is less important, both for the island and the world, than semiconductors. The government is subsidising growers for the lost income. But Chuang Cheng-deng, 55, worries that the thwarted harvest will drive customers to seek out other suppliers, which could mean years of depressed earnings.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/08/business/taiwan-is-facing-a-drought-and-it-has-prioritised-its-computer-chip-business-over-farmers.html

 

Category: Taiwan

Print This Post

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.