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Outmoded Electricity Grid Will Cripple U.S. Plan To Be a World Leader in Semiconductors

March 19, 2024 (EIRNS)—The United States’s plan to build, on an emergency basis, the factories that make critical semiconductor chips, may fall apart because of the outmoded and failing state of the U.S. electricity grid. The production of computer chips requires a large amount of energy input, especially the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines, which use ultraviolet light produced by rapid fire lasers to burn fine details on silicon wafers.

In 2022, the United States passed the much-ballyhooed CHIPS and Science Act into law, a bipartisan effort to increase domestic advanced semiconductor manufacturing. The legislation promised to make a $52 billion investment in American semiconductor research, manufacturing, and workforce development. Within the act’s framework, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is building a 1,000-acre facility near Phoenix, Arizona, which is to house five chip-making plants. Accompanying the act’s signing were bellicose threats that the U.S. would block China from becoming a producer of the most advanced chips.

However, this may fall apart, due to the outmoded state of the electricity grid. Sarah Shinton writes on March 12 in Industry Week, in an article, “The Success of U.S. Chip Manufacturing Hinges on Our Electric Grid”: “Over a year later, new projects are facing construction delays and permitting issues, raising concerns over efforts to expand domestic manufacturing despite legislative support. Worse yet, the country might be unable to generate enough electricity to power new [semiconductor] fabrication plants.”

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