IET president looks to semiconductors for energy cuts

The president of the IET claimed at his inaugural lecture at the start of October that the semiconductor industry could have a major role to play in reducing the world’s energy consumption.

Professor Christopher Snowden, who took over the presidency on 1 October 2009, said developments in lower-power semiconductors, such as smaller CMOS devices, finFETs and devices made from polymers will help improve energy efficiency and allow semiconductors to replace other technologies.

“Semiconductors are not just crucial for satisfying our demands for technology, but also play a role in reducing energy demand,” said Snowden. With semiconductors used to improve the energy efficiency of products, he added: “By 2030, the US economy could expand by more than 70 per cent and still use 11 per cent less electricity than in 2008. That reduction could eliminate almost 300 power stations.”

“Semiconductor technology improvements have saved an estimated 775 billion kilowatt-hours in 2006,” compared to what would have been required using the technology of 1976, Snowden claimed based on research performed by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

“Semiconductor technology could turn out to be extremely important in sorting out some of the environmental challenges in front of us. It could be very significant, perhaps reducing energy consumption by as much as half,” Snowden concluded.

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