Infineon Technologies AG opened its new high-tech chip factory for power electronics on 300-millimeter thin wafers in Villach, Austria.
With a price tag of € 1.6 billion, the investment made by the semiconductor group is one of the largest of such projects in the microelectronics sector in Europe.
The Villach site was opened by Infineon CEO Reinhard Ploss, Infineon Austria CEO Sabine Herlitschka as well as EU Commissioner Thierry Breton and then Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.
About the new factory, Ms. Herlitschka said: “With this investment, Infineon has demonstrated that it is also possible to build attractive production sites in Europe in the highly competitive microelectronics sector. We are setting new standards with this investment. The energy-saving chips from Villach will become important core elements for the energy transition.”
At the opening, Sebastian Kurz, who was still Austria’s chancellor at the time, emphasized the new chip factory’s significance. He said, “The immense investment of 1.6 billion euros shows that Austria, as a business and technology location, offers excellent framework conditions and the employee know-how that is needed to make them happen.”
Infineon CEO Reinhard Ploss said, “The new fab is a milestone for Infineon, and its opening is very good news for our customers. The timing to create new capacity in Europe could not be better, given the growing global demand for power semiconductors.”
Products already being shipped
Following three years of planning and construction, the factory was commissioned at the beginning of August, three months ahead of schedule. The Villach plant has now already shipped out its first wafers.
In the first phase of expansion, the chips will mainly be sent to fulfill the needs of the automotive industry, data centers, and renewable energy industry.
On the group level, the new factory will provide Infineon with an additional sales potential of around € 2 billion per year.
The new factory will enable Infineon to serve the growing market for power semiconductors in electric cars, data centers as well as solar and wind energy.
The annual capacity planned for industrial semiconductors is sufficient to equip solar systems producing a total of around 1,500 TWh of electricity, which is about three times the annual power consumption of Germany.
Energy-saving chips and climate protection
Infineon’s products have been improving energy efficiency and thus contributing to climate protection for many years.
These energy-saving chips produced at the new Villach site switch electricity intelligently and minimize the carbon footprint of a multitude of applications.
They reduce energy consumption in household appliances, LED lighting, and mobile devices. For example, modern semiconductors can reduce the energy consumption of refrigerators by 40 percent and the energy consumption of lighting in buildings by 25 percent.
Thanks to the products manufactured in the new Villach production facility, more than 13 million tons of CO² can be eliminated. This is equal to the amount of CO² that is produced by more than 20 million people living in Europe.
Eighty percent of the factory’s heating requirements will be met by intelligently recycling the waste heat of the cooling systems, and, as a result, roughly 20,000 tons of CO² will be avoided each year.
Additionally, the extensive use of exhaust air purification systems will cut direct emissions to virtually zero.
Another achievement in terms of sustainable production and circular economy is the production and recycling of green hydrogen.
The hydrogen required as a process gas in production will be produced directly on-site from renewable energy sources starting at the beginning of 2022.
This will remove CO² emissions during the original production and transport.
The green hydrogen will be repurposed after use in chip production to fuel public transportation buses. This dual-use of green hydrogen is unique in Europe.
All of this is part of Infineon’s efforts towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Two sites in Europe form a mega-factory
The new factory has about 60,000 m² of floor space. Production will be progressively increased over the next four to five years.
Over two-thirds of the 400 additional highly qualified specialists needed to operate the factory have already been hired.
The factory is one of the most modern in the world and relies on full automation and digitization. As a “learning factory,” artificial intelligence solutions will be used primarily in the area of predictive maintenance, and thus networked plants will know earlier when they require maintenance.
Jochen Hanebeck, a member of the Management Board and Chief Operations Officer of Infineon, said, “Infineon now has two large power semiconductor manufacturing sites for 300-millimeter thin wafers, one in Dresden and one in Villach. Both sites are based on the same standardized production and digitization concepts. This allows us to control the manufacturing operations at the two sites as if they were one factory. We increase productivity and create additional flexibility for our customers.”
Global pioneer in 300-millimeter thin wafer technology
The chips are manufactured on 300-millimeter thin wafers, which are thinner than human hair.
Villach is the group’s center of expertise for power semiconductors and has long been a crucial innovation site in Infineon’s manufacturing network.
This is where the production of power semiconductors on 300-millimeter thin wafers was developed around 10 years ago.
It was later expanded to fully automated volume production at the Dresden site.
This technology provides considerable productivity advantages as a result of the larger wafer diameter, and it reduces capital expenditure.
About Infineon Austria
Infineon Technologies Austria AG is a subsidiary of Infineon Technologies AG, which is a global leader in providing semiconductor solutions.
Microelectronics from Infineon reduce the energy consumption of consumer electronics, domestic appliances, and industrial facilities.
They also make a major contribution to the convenience, security, and sustainability of vehicles.
Infineon Austria pools competencies for research and development, production, and global business responsibility.
The head office is in Villach, but there are additional branches in Graz, Klagenfurt, Linz, and Vienna.
In the financial year 2020, the company achieved a turnover of € 3.1 billion with 4,517 employees from around 70 countries.
Infineon Austria is the strongest research company in Austria, with a research expenditure of € 498 million.