Thailand's Image Sensor Production Center on Track to Run on 100% Renewable Energy
Some of you may recall the largescale flooding that occurred in Thailand in 2011, in which floodwaters reached the Bangkadi Industrial Park, located about 35 kilometers northwest of the capital city of Bangkok, and heavily damaged the facilities at Sony Device Technology (Thailand) Co. Ltd. (below "Sony Device Technology"). During the months of frantic recovery efforts to resume operations, not only the local employees but also many employees of the Sony Group around the world were made to feel firsthand the significant impact of climate change on their businesses and daily lives.
Now, 10 years later, Sony Device Technology is taking on a new challenge to address climate change: becoming the first Sony Group manufacturing site in Southeast Asia to operate its facilities using 100% renewable energy.
Sony Device Technology is the center of production for Sony's Imaging & Sensing Solutions business, and is mainly responsible for the assembly of image sensors. Image sensors may not be an everyday technology familiar to most consumers, but they are in fact an important form of semiconductor technology that functions, for example, as the "eyes" of the camera when you take pictures with your smartphone. Sony holds the largest share in the global image sensor market, and its image sensors are used in a wide range of applications, from smartphone cameras, which have become indispensable in our daily lives, to digital cameras, drones, and even the area of mobility with automated driving technology.
While image sensors are small enough to fit in the palm of one's hand, they require a significant amount of electricity to manufacture. Currently, the Imaging & Sensing Solutions business, which includes image sensors, accounts for a majority of the electricity used in the Sony Group's overall business activities. Sony installed more than 1MW of solar power generation equipment at its Kumamoto production center, which started operations in 2019, and Sony Device Technology is similarly striving to introduce renewable energy into its operations.
Sony Device Technology has a roof area of about 50,000 square meters, and plans to cover this surface almost entirely with solar panels by October of this year. The solar panels will be installed on an area approximately 2.54 times the ground area of the Tokyo Dome, which would make it the largest area covered by solar panels at any facility managed by the Sony Group. Some of the panels have already started generating electricity, and by the end of the fiscal year, all of the large panels will be generating electricity to supply the plant. Although these panels alone will not be able to supply all of the electricity required by the facility, they will be able to reduce CO2 emissions by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates*, and by combining solar panels with the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates, Sony Device Technology expects to become the first Sony Group manufacturing site in Asia to achieve 100% renewable energy operation by the end of this fiscal year.
- * Renewable Energy Certificates: A system for trading the environmental added value of electricity generated from renewable energy sources in the form of certificates.
Sony Group's Environmental Initiatives
As the Sony Group can only operate its businesses in a world where people, society and the planet are healthy, we are engaged in a variety of initiatives for the environment. In the area of climate change, we are a member of the international initiative RE100*, and have committed to using 100% renewable energy for the electricity used in our business activities by the year 2040.
In addition to reducing energy use at the factories and plants where our products are produced, we are also accelerating the adoption of renewable energy across the Sony Group. On top of the initiatives at Sony Device Technology described above, Sony has made a number of improvements its various image sensor production sites, which require large amounts of electricity.
Nagasaki Technology Center (Japan)
Energy consumption is reduced through "waste heat recycling," a process in which heat generated in the factory is used to supply a portion of the energy required to maintain constant conditions in the clean room where image sensors are manufactured.
In addition, the new Fab 5 expansion, which was completed last month, incorporates the latest energy-saving technologies and is designed to be environmentally friendly with an AI-based system that minimizes the power required for equipment to maintain a constant temperature and humidity.
Kumamoto Technology Center (Japan)
A solar power generation facility of approximately 1.1MW has been installed and in operation since 2019. In fiscal 2019, approximately 1,240MWh of electricity was provided by solar power generation.
Sony Device Technology (Thailand)
We have improved energy efficiency by adopting a "partial air conditioning" system in the clean room, which focuses cooling on the necessary areas. In addition, the temperature of the chilled water used in this system has been raised, allowing the clean room to consume significantly less energy than before.
A healthy global environment is vital or us to continue business operations in a sustainable manner, as it is on this planet that all of Sony's important stakeholders live and work. In order for Sony remain Sony, we must continue to think about what we can do each day to accelerate our efforts for a sustainable society and environment.
- * RE100: An international initiative that aims to achieve the use of 100% renewable energy to power business activities.
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