Intel plans to build a giant semiconductor fabrication plant – what it calls a mega fab – in Europe and is currently in the process of looking for a location the fits its need in size, energy reliability and water supply.
Intel has long prioritized water conservation, so finding a location that fits those goals, especially with water use being an industry issue, is a top priority.
Intel has its own sustainability plans for establishing 100% renewable energy by 2030 as well as a net-positive water use plan that includes a goal of conserving 60 billion gallons of water. The company says it increased renewable energy from 71% to 82% in 2020 and conserved 7.1 billion gallons of water, as well as restoring more than 1.3 billion gallons of water to local watersheds by funding water restoration projects.
“I need ground, I need a big plot, I need energy, I need talent, and I need water supply,” Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger told Fortune.
While part of Intel’s overall sustainability objectives moving forward, the scope of such a project could be a challenge for the company.
Telsa, for example, is building another large facility in Europe outside of Berlin and has had numerous issues with water use and water regulation. Germany even shut off the water supply to automaker’s the construction site at one point in late 2020.
As industry and countries move away from fossil fuels, Germany is also one of the most expensive in Europe in an effort to use complete renewable energy.
Intel recognizes the energy costs of such projects and chip productions. It says over the past decade it has completed more than 2,000 energy conservation projects for a savings of 4.5 billion kilowatt-hours.
With the size of the estimated $95 billion facility, Intel’s plans are ambitious regarding its sustainability goals. But the company has been transitioning existing facilities and building new ones with green practices for years. Since 2015 it has achieved LEED Silver certification on one building, LEED Gold on six buildings and LEED Platinum on three other facilities.
While Intel continues to focus on its internal sustainability objectives the company also has rules in places for its 9,000 teir-1 suppliers to do the same. The new European facility would likely include tens of thousands of Intel’s own employees as well as thousands more additional suppliers.
Chips are an important part of auto production and Europe a prime location for such production, which is why Intel has focused on the area. Intel currently has 15 fabs in operation spread out in 10 locations. The new mega fab would be its second facility in Europe, the other currently located in Ireland.
The company plans to pick a location for the facility by the end of the year.