News Samsung's Chip Fabs in Texas Ordered to Shut Down Due to Power Shortage

Giroro

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I still don't understand why fabs don't have exceptionally-good backup power systems.
What would it cost for Samsung (or others) to build themselves a small backup power-plant for each of their facilities? I would hope that it would be far less than the millions of dollars they lose every time there's a blackout. I would hope it would be a small cost relative to the Billions they say they spent on the rest of the facility.
I get that in an unplanned outage, it is hard to make a backup system that doesn't at least brown-out some sensitive equipment for a minute or 2 while the generators spin up, but for a planned outage... they really don't have any way to at a minimum keep the systems "warm" without ruining all their product and requiring days to start back up? That doesn't make a lot of business sense. Maybe they just know that a newsworthy shutdown causes chip prices to spike for awhile, perhaps long enough that they break even or come out ahead?
 
I still don't understand why fabs don't have exceptionally-good backup power systems.
What would it cost for Samsung (or others) to build themselves a small backup power-plant for each of their facilities? I would hope that it would be far less than the millions of dollars they lose every time there's a blackout. I would hope it would be a small cost relative to the Billions they say they spent on the rest of the facility.
I get that in an unplanned outage, it is hard to make a backup system that doesn't at least brown-out some sensitive equipment for a minute or 2 while the generators spin up, but for a planned outage... they really don't have any way to at a minimum keep the systems "warm" without ruining all their product and requiring days to start back up? That doesn't make a lot of business sense. Maybe they just know that a newsworthy shutdown causes chip prices to spike for awhile, perhaps long enough that they break even or come out ahead?
According to https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/operations/pdfs/bringing_fabenergyefficiency.ashx, a large scale fab can use up to 100 megawatt-hours per hour. To put things in perspective, a Tesla Powerwall has up to a 13.5 kWh capacity. You would need around 7410 of these to keep a plant running for one hour.

If anything, they probably have something in place to last them long enough to shut everything down safely, but that's it.
 

watzupken

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Too many crypto miners drawing power? Unless the fab has been idling all the while and suddenly being ramped up to 100%, otherwise it should not come as a surprise the amount of power the fab and draw.
 

jimbo007

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According to https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/operations/pdfs/bringing_fabenergyefficiency.ashx, a large scale fab can use up to 100 megawatt-hours per hour. To put things in perspective, a Tesla Powerwall has up to a 13.5 kWh capacity. You would need around 7410 of these to keep a plant running for one hour.

If anything, they probably have something in place to last them long enough to shut everything down safely, but that's it.

I doubt it but if that't correct (for large fabs) then it is an extremely huge amount of power. For comparison NY city has an energy (power actually) usage of 460 megawatts-hours per hour (or 11000 megawatt-hours per day). That's 1/5 the power draw of a very large city for a large semiconductor fab!
 

danlw

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Get used to this sort of thing. As the country switches to renewables such as wind and solar, the power grid is less able to handle demand spikes when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine. Tesla is working to solve the power with battery backed grids, but it will take decades to get anywhere near where it needs to be.

The only real green energy option that is viable now is nuclear, but public perception is driving the wholesale shutdown of the industry, and new plants are not being built in spite of new safe reactor designs such as molten salt reactors that can cool themselves down even with zero power input.

Beyond those, we're stuck with coal and natural gas. As these plants get shut down and replaced with wind/solar, the grid becomes less and less able to absorb spikes in demand due to things like arctic blasts and heat waves.
 
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UWguy

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Samsung needs to rethink doing business with Texas. Yes it looks cheap on the surface but this is what happens (oops!).
 

USAFRet

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Samsung needs to rethink doing business with Texas. Yes it looks cheap on the surface but this is what happens (oops!).
Texas is not unique. Extreme weather events happen all over.

Thailand:
 

King_V

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Get used to this sort of thing. As the country switches to renewables such as wind and solar, the power grid is less able to handle demand spikes when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine. Tesla is working to solve the power with battery backed grids, but it will take decades to get anywhere near where it needs to be.

The only real green energy option that is viable now is nuclear, but public perception is driving the wholesale shutdown of the industry, and new plants are not being built in spite of new safe reactor designs such as molten salt reactors that can cool themselves down even with zero power input.

Beyond those, we're stuck with coal and natural gas. As these plants get shut down and replaced with wind/solar, the grid becomes less and less able to absorb spikes in demand due to things like arctic blasts and heat waves.
Ah, one of THOSE posts.

Uh, no, you do not, in fact, have to get used to this sort of thing "as the country switches to renewables." Further, nuclear is very slow to bring up in the real world, not because of public perception.

You only described ONE solution, and we're already closer than your "decades to get anywhere near where it needs to be."

There's so much wrong with this it's staggering.

Oh, and, would you like to know one of the things that would have made stabilizing the grid, allowing power to be more readily brought in from elsewhere, and an increase in efficiency, to happen, but it was blocked by coal lobbying and certain political ignoramuses?

This: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/08/how-trump-appointees-short-circuited-grid-modernization/615433/
 

UWguy

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Texas is not unique. Extreme weather events happen all over.

Thailand:
Rubbish. Unlike the article mentioned above this event was completely preventable. The state that prides itself in the energy sector has over 2 million without power simply because they were too cheap to take the proper precautions. Texans have nobody but themselves to blame for this debacle because of the mental midgets they voted in running this **** show. Maybe Texans need to be a little more concerned about fundamentals and less with fringe issues.
 

gggplaya

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I doubt it but if that't correct (for large fabs) then it is an extremely huge amount of power. For comparison NY city has an energy (power actually) usage of 460 megawatts-hours per hour (or 11000 megawatt-hours per day). That's 1/5 the power draw of a very large city for a large semiconductor fab!

There's no reason to say megawatt-hours per hour. That doesn't make any sense. 460megawatts for 1 hour is a MWhr.

Your usage of 11,000 MWhr - per day is fine.
 

InvalidError

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Get used to this sort of thing. As the country switches to renewables such as wind and solar, the power grid is less able to handle demand spikes when the wind doesn't blow and the sun doesn't shine.
Texas did not lose power from a lack of wind, it lost power from a lack of infrastructure weatherproofing. Wind turbines work fine in cold climates when you equip them with de-icers which Texas did not bother with. Texas did not winter-proof their natural gas infrastructure either and that froze over too, so a large chunk of its fossil fuel based power production also failed.

If they want to avoid power outages from cold snaps like this, they first need to admit that climate change is real and plan their infrastructure based on formerly-once-in-a-century weather becoming annual events.
 
I doubt it but if that't correct (for large fabs) then it is an extremely huge amount of power. For comparison NY city has an energy (power actually) usage of 460 megawatts-hours per hour (or 11000 megawatt-hours per day). That's 1/5 the power draw of a very large city for a large semiconductor fab!
Should've provided the qualifier that it was "up to", but you should still account for the worst case scenario.

However for other figures:
At the end of the day however, the point still stands: producing chips is energy intensive and you're going to need a hefty backup power system to keep a plant running. I mean, maybe you can have on-site power generation as a backup and run at reduced capacity, but hindsight is 20/20 and nobody really expected hell freezing over in Texas.
 

King_V

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Texas did not lose power from a lack of wind, it lost power from a lack of infrastructure weatherproofing. Wind turbines work fine in cold climates when you equip them with de-icers which Texas did not bother with. Texas did not winter-proof their natural gas infrastructure either and that froze over too, so a large chunk of its fossil fuel based power production also failed.

If they want to avoid power outages from cold snaps like this, they first need to admit that climate change is real and plan their infrastructure based on formerly-once-in-a-century weather becoming annual events.

Above and beyond this, wind generation was, apparently, higher than anticipated during this time. From https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/02/texas-power-grid-crumples-under-the-cold/
While some early reports indicated that frozen wind turbines were causing significant shortfalls, 30GW is roughly equal to the entire state's wind capacity if every turbine is producing all the power it's rated for. Since wind in Texas generally tends to produce less during winter, there's no way that the grid operators would have planned for getting 30GW from wind generation; in fact, a chart at ERCOT indicates that wind is producing significantly more than forecast.
That said, a certain political party is blaming renewables anyway. From https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/one-texas-storm-exposed-energy-grid-unprepared-climate-change-rcna289:
Wind and solar, still fairly small slices of the state's energy mix, played only a minimal role in the sudden power shortage, utility officials said — contrary to a wave of conservative critics who tried to falsely pin blame for the situation on renewable energy.
 

dalek1234

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According to https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/dotcom/client_service/operations/pdfs/bringing_fabenergyefficiency.ashx, a large scale fab can use up to 100 megawatt-hours per hour. To put things in perspective, a Tesla Powerwall has up to a 13.5 kWh capacity. You would need around 7410 of these to keep a plant running for one hour.

If anything, they probably have something in place to last them long enough to shut everything down safely, but that's it.
UPS won't work here, I agree, but gas powered electrical generator will run forever, unless somebody cuts off your gas supply. We had a power outage in Ontario once, a major one, US was affected to, for like a week. After that, RIM, what it was called back then, installed huge hybrid gas/diesel generators next to each of their buildings, including the manufacturing plant. One day there was a another outage. Those generator kicked in, and electricity came back on in single-digit seconds.

Maybe a combination of a short life, but high output UPS plus these gas generators would be needed for Samsung's plant, but if UPS was needed, it would only need to provide enough electricity for a few seconds before the generators kicked in.

It would seem that Samsung needs to fire whoever leads their Disaster Recover team.
 

gggplaya

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Above and beyond this, wind generation was, apparently, higher than anticipated during this time. From https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/02/texas-power-grid-crumples-under-the-cold/


That said, a certain political party is blaming renewables anyway. From https://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/one-texas-storm-exposed-energy-grid-unprepared-climate-change-rcna289:

To be fair, renewables can't ramp up production or maintain peak production when necessary. This was highlighted in last summers California rolling blackouts. The natural gas plants ramped up to meet demand and was able to maintain peak production, but because the state decided to close down many power plants and replace them with renewable energy, it wasn't enough to meet the energy needs of the state during a heat wave. Had those other plants still been operational, they could have ramped up to meet demand.

In my opinion, we should explore newer nuclear technology with these miniature reactors to help solve climate change.
 
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kanewolf

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Rubbish. Unlike the article mentioned above this event was completely preventable. The state that prides itself in the energy sector has over 2 million without power simply because they were too cheap to take the proper precautions. Texans have nobody but themselves to blame for this debacle because of the mental midgets they voted in running this **** show. Maybe Texans need to be a little more concerned about fundamentals and less with fringe issues.
It is not "the state". Electricity is all private companies with no incentives to maintain or improve their capacity. Could TX govt re-regulate electricity to put more requirements on the generators? Sure. Will they? probably not. We live in an 80% world. The costs of the last 20% of reliability or capacity is not cost effective. So the generators choose not to. And they are not obligated to.
I say this as a person that had 15 hours without power, at 8F in Dallas Monday night.
 
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danlw

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To be fair, renewables can't ramp up production or maintain peak production when necessary. This was highlighted in last summers California rolling blackouts. The natural gas plants ramped up to meet demand and was able to maintain peak production, but because the state decided to close down many power plants and replace them with renewable energy, it wasn't enough to meet the energy needs of the state during a heat wave. Had those other plants still been operational, they could have ramped up to meet demand.

In my opinion, we should explore newer nuclear technology with these miniature reactors to help solve climate change.
Exactly my point. Renewables are all well and good but we can't put the cart before the horse. Don't shut down existing power plants before renewables are in a position to be a reliable replacement. The world still has to function while the transition is being made.
 

USAFRet

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Rubbish. Unlike the article mentioned above this event was completely preventable. The state that prides itself in the energy sector has over 2 million without power simply because they were too cheap to take the proper precautions. Texans have nobody but themselves to blame for this debacle because of the mental midgets they voted in running this **** show. Maybe Texans need to be a little more concerned about fundamentals and less with fringe issues.
OK.
Remove it from TX and put it....where?

California? Where they have rolling blackouts 'just because'?
NC or Virginia? Hey look, here comes another hurricane.
Kansas, and wait for a tornado to stroll through?
South Korea? oops, accidental power outage.
Thailand? Damn, that flood sucked.

How about we leave "politics" out of this.
 
It would seem that Samsung needs to fire whoever leads their Disaster Recover team.
If this is a freak event that happens infrequently enough, this isn't something you normally plan for. You just take this as lessons learned and consider if it's worth looking into.

I mean, it's like saying I should invest in snow tires, in a place that hasn't seen snow in like 50 years.
 

USAFRet

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It would seem that Samsung needs to fire whoever leads their Disaster Recover team.
Why? It didn't just go dark unexpectedly. They, and all other industrial users in the area, were ordered to shut down by the power company.

Conversely, if they DID have enough backup power and kept running in this exceedingly rare event, they would have been roasted.
"How is it that Samsung gets to keep making chips for toys and phones, while 200,000 residents are sitting in the dark, freezing?"
That would have been a BIG headline.
 

InvalidError

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If this is a freak event that happens infrequently enough, this isn't something you normally plan for.
With climate change, what used to be "once a century" weather events are breaking new records every few years. Can't make plans based on something not happening again any time soon anymore, got to plan based on those events becoming increasingly frequent and severe. In places where the power grid may be vulnerable to extreme weather and the government isn't stepping in to require more robust power generation and distribution, fabs may need to take power generation in their own hands.

Conversely, if they DID have enough backup power and kept running in this exceedingly rare event, they would have been roasted.
I don't see why a company would "get roasted" for owning sufficient power generation to keep themselves in business through power outages and don't have much excess to export to the grid even if they wanted to. The large companies that got told to shut down still needed their employees to stay to organize the shut-downs and many of them will still have to clock in every day for maintenance and surveilance even in shut-down/idle state.
 
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USAFRet

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I don't see why a company would "get roasted" for owning sufficient power generation to keep themselves in business through power outages and don't have much excess to export to the grid even if they wanted to. The large companies that got told to shut down still needed their employees to stay to organize the shut-downs and many of them will still have to clock in every day for maintenance and surveilance even in shut-down/idle state.
This headline in particular:
As Texas Suffers Power Outage, Photos of Downtown Houston Lit Up Anger Locals
https://www.newsweek.com/texas-suffers-power-outage-photos-downtown-houston-lit-1569573
 

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