WaferTech’s new cooling system saves energy, dollars

Endeavor is the largest energy efficiency project in Clark County

By Heather Acheson, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

o Annual energy savings: Approximately four million kilowatt hours saved

o Estimated cost savings: $200,000 annual reduction in energy costs

o Emission reduction: Nearly 1.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide prevented each year

o It is the largest energy efficiency project in Clark County

o Annual energy savings: Approximately four million kilowatt hours saved

o Estimated cost savings: $200,000 annual reduction in energy costs

o Emission reduction: Nearly 1.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide prevented each year

o It is the largest energy efficiency project in Clark County

On Thursday WaferTech unveiled a new $1.6 million, energy efficient cooling system at its Camas manufacturing facility. According to President KC Hsu, the company now has a solid hold on bragging rights for producing the lowest carbon footprint of any semi-conductor manufacturer in the world today.

“Saving energy and being good environmental stewards is vital for TSMC and WaferTech,” Hsu said during a ceremony and luncheon event attended by local political and business officials, and staff from government agencies involved in the endeavor.

Installation of the project, which required 2,000 construction hours to complete, allows a savings of enough energy to power 350 homes every year. The savings going forward are equal to the salaries of six WaferTech production specialists.

WaferTech’s James Woodley initiated the project, which in the early design stages was about $250,000 over budget. The cost was whittled down to fit within financial constraints. He said he is pleased with the end result, which is actually a cooling system that uses a relatively simple process.

“I believe it’s pretty unique,” Woodley said. “I don’t know of any other site doing this. It really took a combination of a lot of people to complete this project.”

Expected to reduce energy use by up to four million kilowatt-hours annually, the new system uses the cool, Pacific Northwest weather to naturally bring the temperature of warm, post-manufacturing water down instead of relying on traditional chillers year-round.

“We’re a multi-national company in an extremely competitive industry,” said Jim Short, director of facilities. “Locating here in the Pacific Northwest, where the mild climate can offset cooling costs, is giving us an advantage by saving us money in manufacturing and also helping to preserve the environment through reduced emissions.”

Coordinated by Clark Public Utilities, with support from the Bonneville Power Administration Energy Smart Industrial Program, installation of the new system was funded through grants including $1,031,500 from the utility with resources from BPA, $120,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the State Energy Program Grant and $100,000 from Washington State University. WaferTech contributed an additional $352,000.

In preparation for the project, the Columbia River Economic Development Council submitted the ARRA grant application on behalf of CPU and WaferTech, and provided assistance in securing the ARRA grant as well as a $282,000 loan for a total of $402,000, the final piece required to fund the project.

“Maximizing our current power supply through conservation projects like the new WaferTech cooling system is the least expensive investment we can make toward future growth in Clark County,” said Larry Blaufus, senior manager of energy technologies and services. “Reduced energy use saves customers money and helps hold off a need to build additional generation facilities by making the power we have now, go further.”

Project partners include contractors JH Kelly, Evergreen Engineering, and Worley Parsons & Nexant; the Washington State University Energy Extension; the Washington State Department of Commerce; Bonneville Power Administration Energy Smart Industrial program; and the CREDC.

Many of the officials in attendance stressed the partnerships that allowed the project to happen.

“Without all of these pieces, it wouldn’t have been possible,” said CPU Commissioner Carol Curtis. “We need to continue making these kinds of investments. The future is going to depend on this kind of action.”

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