Mon, May 09, 2011 - Page 12 News List

High-tech firms recycling to fight shortages of water

Staff Writer, with CNA

Leading flat panel and wafer makers said they would make use of recycled water to cope with water rationing that is expected to be imposed in several areas on May 20.

Under the second-stage of water rationing announced by Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) on Wednesday, the supply of water to industrial users will be cut by 5 percent and fountains and other non-essential users will have their supplies cut off.

AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電) and Chimei Innolux Corp (奇美電子), the nation’s two largest flat-panel makers, said on Friday that they expected to cope by using recycled wastewater, but they would not provide details of what else they would do.

They said they already recycle an average of 85 percent of the wastewater they generate, and Chimei Innolux said the recycling rate was as high as 91 percent at some of its factories.

AUO said its Water Inter-use System, a water saving system connecting different pieces of equipment, enables it to save 335,000 tonnes of water a year, enough to fill 160 standard swimming pools.

A system that allows AUO to catch rainwater off the roof of one of its factories helps it save more than 25,000 tonnes of water per year, enough to fill 11 standard swimming pools.

Meanwhile, the nation’s two largest wafer foundries, United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), said they would not rule out the possibility of purchasing water in case of water shortages.

While buying water would raise costs, the overall impact would be limited, UMC said. It said it has gone through water rationing many times in the past and had a standard operating procedure that it would follow this time as well.

TSMC said it began saving water at the beginning of last month in anticipation of water shortages and has already reduced usage by 3 percent. It said its 85 percent -water-recycling rate would also help it meet production needs.

Second-phase water rationing measures will be introduced in cities and counties such as Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Greater Taichung and Changhua.

First-phase water rationing was implemented in Hsinchu on March 18, and in Taoyuan, Miaoli and Changhua counties, Greater Taichung, and Banciao (板橋) and Sinjhuang (新莊) districts in New Taipei City (新北市) last month.

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