Wednesday, February 17th 2021

Manufacturing: Samsung Semiconductor Fabs in Texas Shut Down Following State-wide Power Shortages

News just keep flowing that are bound to have impact on pricing for components users of this website know and love. The Austin-American Statesman reports that Samsung has been ordered to shutter its Texas factories in wake of recent power shortages that have impacted the state. The order, which came from Austin Energy, doesn't just affect Samsung: all industrial and semiconductor manufacturers in the state were ordered to idle or shut down their facilities, meaning that NXP Semiconductors and Infineon Semiconductors have also been affected. According to Austin Energy, all companies have complied with the order. A date for the lifting of these restrictions still hasn't been given.

As we know, semiconductor manufacturing is a drawn-out process, with some particular wafers taking several months in their journey from initial fabrication until they reach completion. This meas that it's a particularly sensitive business in regards to power outages or general service interruptions. The entire semiconductor manufacturing lines - and products therein, in various stages of production - can be rendered unusable due to these events, which will have a sizable impact in the final manufacturing output of a given factory. It remains to be seen the scale of this production impact, but a few percentage points difference in the overall global semiconductor manufacturing could have dire implications for availability and pricing, considering the already insufficient operational capacity in regards to demand. Considering the impact adverse temperatures are having on Texas residents, here's hoping for the quick resolution of these problems, which affect much more than just semiconductor manufacturing capabilities.
Sources: Austin-American Statesman, via Tom's Hardware
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92 Comments on Manufacturing: Samsung Semiconductor Fabs in Texas Shut Down Following State-wide Power Shortages

#51
InVasMani
FreedomEclipse
Does that mean that the price of things that use products from these fabs will sky rocket by 500%??
If you have to ask you can't afford it...
DeathtoGnomes
Our faithful and reliable politicians call this infrastructure, and there is never any money to update it.
There is money to update it, but they won't take the pay cuts to help do so.
Posted on Reply
#52
JustAnEngineer
It's sad to see the B.S. story blaming wind power for ERCOT's epic failure being spread on a tech site like this.

Four days later, ERCOT is still experiencing a 15+ GW shortfall of operating generators. That's more than all of the renewable power sources combined. The 30 GW of natural gas, coal and nuclear power capacity that went off-line is a whole lot more significant than freezing up half of the windmills.

The charts here don't tell lies:
www.eia.gov/beta/electricity/gridmonitor/dashboard/electric_overview/US48/US48

ERCOT generation at midnight Sunday night:
43.0 GW Natural Gas
10.8 GW Coal
5.5 GW Wind
5.1 GW Nuclear
0.2 GW Hydro
0.03 GW Other
0.0 GW Solar
1.2 GW imported power from neighboring regions
===
65.8 GW total supplied to customers

ERCOT generation at midnight Wednesday night:
27.9 GW Natural Gas
7.2 GW Coal
2.9 GW Wind
3.8 GW Nuclear
0.1 GW Hydro
0.02 GW Other
0.0 GW Solar
0.8 GW imported power from neighboring regions
===
42.7 GW total supplied to customers
-58.0 GW projected demand
===
15.3 GW of customer demand blacked out.
Posted on Reply
#53
Vayra86
mechtech
I've always found the power issues in the states interesting. What are the main reasons this happens?
Shite infrastructure maintenance, ancient hardware, etc. Its basically always about money and being compliant with rules. Somehow there is always wiggle room to topple solid and robust systems like that. Its never a real accident. Someone fucked up and then tried to hide it, or just simply is too spineless to escalate in such a way that it sticks.

This applies almost to every such accident in one way or another. People being people, hypocrites, spineless, or just not committed. Usually in the upper levels.
JustAnEngineer
It's sad to see the B.S. story blaming wind power for ERCOT's epic failure being spread on a tech site like this.

Four days later, ERCOT is still experiencing a 15+ GW shortfall of operating generators. That's more than all of the renewable power sources combined. The 30 GW of natural gas, coal and nuclear power capacity that went off-line is a whole lot more significant than freezing up half of the windmills.

The charts here don't tell lies:
www.eia.gov/beta/electricity/gridmonitor/dashboard/electric_overview/US48/US48

ERCOT generation at midnight Sunday night:
43.0 GW Natural Gas
10.8 GW Coal
5.5 GW Wind
5.1 GW Nuclear
0.2 GW Hydro
0.03 GW Other
0.0 GW Solar
1.2 GW imported power from neighboring regions
===
65.8 GW total supplied to customers

ERCOT generation at midnight Wednesday night:
27.9 GW Natural Gas
7.2 GW Coal
2.9 GW Wind
3.8 GW Nuclear
0.1 GW Hydro
0.02 GW Other
0.0 GW Solar
0.8 GW imported power from neighboring regions
===
42.7 GW total supplied to customers
-58.0 GW projected demand
===
15.3 GW of customer demand blacked out.
Maybe this is how they're trying to reach their carbon emission reduction targets? :D

Its possibly not even a joke, that's the sad part.
Posted on Reply
#54
Wirko
FreedomEclipse
Does that mean that the price of things that use products from these fabs will sky rocket by 500%??
To bring a little hope here: this kind of weather doesn't come suddenly. Fabs were likely given advance warnings a day or two before they had to stop the process, and likely they weren't forced to cut consumption to zero, so they could keep some furnaces running etc., to minimise the damage.
It will be closer to 200%, not 500%.
Posted on Reply
#55
Why_Me
www.statesman.com/story/news/2021/02/17/texas-energy-wind-power-outage-natural-gas-renewable-green-new-deal/6780546002/

As of Wednesday, 46,000 megawatts of generation were offline, with 185 generating plants tripped. ERCOT officials said 28,000 megawatts came from coal, gas and nuclear plants, and 18,000 megawatts were from solar and wind.


This is the part I'm calling bs on. Natural gas doesn't freeze in 25F temps ... not even close. Someone dropped the ball for whatever reason(s) and they're coming up with some excuses that nobody with an IQ north of a turnip is going to buy into.

Cohan also said some natural gas plants may not have been able to get adequate supply of gas to be converted into electricity, too.

"This is far beyond what the power system operators expected, a far deeper freeze and a far worse performance from our natural gas power plants than anyone anticipated," Cohan said.
Posted on Reply
#56
Wirko
Vayra86
Somehow there is always wiggle room to topple solid and robust systems like that.
Wires are thick, pylons are strong, power plants are magnificently big, all giving an impression of being robust and resistant. But these systems are fragile and fully loaded much of the time, and a small failure can have greatest consequences for a large part of a continent.
Posted on Reply
#57
Vayra86
Wirko
Wires are thick, pylons are strong, power plants are magnificently big, all giving an impression of being robust and resistant. But these systems are fragile and fully loaded much of the time, and a small failure can have greatest consequences for a large part of a continent.
That's what redundant systems are for. Redundant systems however cost money doing nothing else other than 'being redundant'. Those are the first measures that suffer when money dries up.

We have similar problems in NL, except not with power supply, but other basics like healthcare, where everything is managed so tightly that the pandemic showed us a glaring lack of, for example, IC beds. We can't handle anything before all signs turn red in that sense. In comparison, Germany had thousands of them ready to go. Its the same principle: do you have redundancy when things go really wrong.

Its really about how you manage a country and spend tax payers money. We need to have an opinion on this and we need to voice it. These are the most basic needs a government has to facilitate, and if they choose to use the tool 'market' for it, they damn well better make sure they regulate and inspect it proper.
Posted on Reply
#58
remixedcat
Wirko
To bring a little hope here: this kind of weather doesn't come suddenly. Fabs were likely given advance warnings a day or two before they had to stop the process, and likely they weren't forced to cut consumption to zero, so they could keep some furnaces running etc., to minimise the damage.
It will be closer to 200%, not 500%.
Companies like Samsung have custom weather data and private meteorologists that give them premium forecasts that are real and not the fake Disney forecasts us plebs get.. lol.

Those custom forecasters also assist in mitigation as well. And also they work with insurance as well. So those companies can cover their asses..
Posted on Reply
#59
Upgrayedd
nexus290

Texas largely relies on natural gas for power. It wasn’t ready for the extreme cold. This is the headlines of an article I found from a Texan newspaper

www.texastribune.org/2021/02/16/natural-gas-power-storm/

Officials for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages most of Texas’ grid, said the primary cause of the outages Tuesday appeared to be the state’s natural gas providers. Many are not designed to withstand such low temperatures on equipment or during production.


By some estimates, nearly half of the state’s natural gas production has screeched to a halt due to the extremely low temperatures, while freezing components at natural gas-fired power plants have forced some operators to shut down.


“Texas is a gas state,” said Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
Ok. Why are you replying to me though? I said nothing about Texas in particular or natural gas.
Posted on Reply
#60
Vayra86
nexus290

Texas largely relies on natural gas for power. It wasn’t ready for the extreme cold. This is the headlines of an article I found from a Texan newspaper

www.texastribune.org/2021/02/16/natural-gas-power-storm/

Officials for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages most of Texas’ grid, said the primary cause of the outages Tuesday appeared to be the state’s natural gas providers. Many are not designed to withstand such low temperatures on equipment or during production.


By some estimates, nearly half of the state’s natural gas production has screeched to a halt due to the extremely low temperatures, while freezing components at natural gas-fired power plants have forced some operators to shut down.


“Texas is a gas state,” said Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
Natural shale gas is a political decision with no regard for the long term or your future generstions. You guys are quite simply 'fracked' beyobd all recognition and this is how that bill gets paid. No redundant energy sources and dependant on finite and high risk sources. There was always a good reason to minimize gas usage. Its costly and vulnerable, more so than many others.

Next: bio fuels made of trees. Soon youll be a desert entirely. The energy economy the US developed is going to backfire in a big way if it isnt already. The real question is if you can even turn all that corruption around, ever.

The rabbit hole is so deep a vast portion of the electorate has already effectively disconnected from future perspective over the last pres. term and the current opposition has no real backbone left to speak of. Good luck with that...
Posted on Reply
#61
dragontamer5788
Why_Me
Any gas lines south of the Brooks Mountain Range are buried as I'm sure Texas buries their gas lines also and that's the insulation ... dirt.
[MEDIA=twitter]1361677146595459073[/MEDIA]


Texas's gas lines don't seem to be buried, or insulated, at all. Its clear that they're completely unprepared for any kind of cold weather. You can't just assume cold-weather competence from southerners like you do with fellow Alaskans.

EDIT: In my experience with southerners, they'll be driving around in their summer tire slicks, slipping and sliding on 2-degree inclines and getting stuck on the side of the road in these conditions. With "luck", you'll see a lot of them jamming their foots on the pedals as hard as possible, wondering why they have no friction as their tires spin. The very idea of freezing is alien to them, and many have no practical experience with freezing conditions (be it driving, living, or well... building power plants it seems). I'm not surprised to see that they've built their power plants in this manner.
Posted on Reply
#62
cheapcomputers
It amusing seeing people that can't stand harnessing a good source of energy from wind.

If you look at power outage maps, one of the least effected areas of the state is the Texas panhandle. That's the coldest part of the state running a large number of wind turbines.
Posted on Reply
#63
ThrashZone
Hi,
Texas uses more wind power than any other state in the USA think it was nearly 20%
Posted on Reply
#64
dragontamer5788
cheapcomputers
It amusing seeing people that can't stand harnessing a good source of energy from wind.

If you look at power outage maps, one of the least effected areas of the state is the Texas panhandle. That's the coldest part of the state running a large number of wind turbines.
Wind Turbines work fine in cold environments, so long as you're prepared. See Ross Island, Antarctica: www.meridianenergy.co.nz/who-we-are/our-power-stations/wind/ross-island

The issue isn't "wind turbines". Its the comical lack of preparedness for cold conditions. Its not just ~15GWs of Wind that shut down, but 30GWs of nuclear, coal, and natural gas plants. Frozen pipes, preventing the flow of water into the nuclear plants shut them down. Frozen pipes preventing natural gas plants from operating. Etc. etc. It seems like huge swaths of the Texas power-grid is not weatherized at all.

Hint: Bury your gas / water lines that feed your power plants before the next storm hits.
Posted on Reply
#65
Wirko
For the gas that is actually used in TX power plants, what's the temperature at which it becomes too thick? It should be low enough to not cause trouble if it's mostly methane and ethane.
Posted on Reply
#66
tfdsaf
mechtech
I've always found the power issues in the states interesting. What are the main reasons this happens?
Too much reliance on "green energy", Texas shut down at least 30% of its coal and gas power and in its stead put up windmills, which about 15% of them froze up during the cold temperatures these past weeks.

They shut down about 30% gas and coal and put up windmills at about 30% power, but it turns out the windmills average power was much smaller than their max power production, so they ended up only replacing about 25% of the power they shut down and like we are seeing now in these very cold weeks the windmills just froze up completely!
Posted on Reply
#67
Why_Me
cheapcomputers
It amusing seeing people that can't stand harnessing a good source of energy from wind.

If you look at power outage maps, one of the least effected areas of the state is the Texas panhandle. That's the coldest part of the state running a large number of wind turbines.
It's even more amusing that some people put so much faith into windmill farms. Just ask the Germans who tout green energy yet are having the Russians build them a second gas line (Nordstream 2) but only after screwing the Hungarians for attempting to do the same (Southstream).
Vayra86
Natural shale gas is a political decision with no regard for the long term or your future generstions. You guys are quite simply 'fracked' beyobd all recognition and this is how that bill gets paid. No redundant energy sources and dependant on finite and high risk sources. There was always a good reason to minimize gas usage. Its costly and vulnerable, more so than many others.

Next: bio fuels made of trees. Soon youll be a desert entirely. The energy economy the US developed is going to backfire in a big way if it isnt already. The real question is if you can even turn all that corruption around, ever.

The rabbit hole is so deep a vast portion of the electorate has already effectively disconnected from future perspective over the last pres. term and the current opposition has no real backbone left to speak of. Good luck with that...
Funny that seeing how the Dutch are knee deep with the Germans when it comes to importing Russian natural gas. Natural gas is clean and easy hence the reason its the #1 source of energy for northern Europe, the US and Canada.
dragontamer5788
[MEDIA=twitter]1361677146595459073[/MEDIA]


Texas's gas lines don't seem to be buried, or insulated, at all. Its clear that they're completely unprepared for any kind of cold weather. You can't just assume cold-weather competence from southerners like you do with fellow Alaskans.

EDIT: In my experience with southerners, they'll be driving around in their summer tire slicks, slipping and sliding on 2-degree inclines and getting stuck on the side of the road in these conditions. With "luck", you'll see a lot of them jamming their foots on the pedals as hard as possible, wondering why they have no friction as their tires spin. The very idea of freezing is alien to them, and many have no practical experience with freezing conditions (be it driving, living, or well... building power plants it seems). I'm not surprised to see that they've built their power plants in this manner.
Those are pics of gas lines covered in ice going into a building. That's no reason for those lines to freeze. Again gas can go through uninsulated lines without a problem in subzero temps which I highly doubt Texas had. There's more to this story than what's being reported.
Posted on Reply
#68
ThrashZone
Hi,
Yeah water/ rain freezes on... metal pipes nothing new there lol
Water pipes that's when you run into problems especially cold water pipes.
Posted on Reply
#69
dragontamer5788
Why_Me
Those are pics of gas lines covered in ice going into a building. That's no reason for those lines to freeze. Again gas can go through uninsulated lines without a problem in subzero temps which I highly doubt Texas had. There's more to this story than what's being reported.
[MEDIA=twitter]1361695199924215813[/MEDIA]
Main story continues to be the failure of thermal power plants -- natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants -- which ERCOT counts on to be there when needed. They've failed. Of about 70,000 MW of thermal plants in ERCOT, ~25-30,000 MW have been out since Sunday night. Huge problem.
There's a lot of different plants that failed all across Texas. Every case will be different.

The main issue I'm seeing is that water pipes froze. Without water, a nuclear-power plant cannot generate electricity and is thus forced to shut down. A frozen above-ground pipe absolutely could mean frozen water preventing the operation of a power plant. I'm seeing reports from ~5F to ~15F weather across Texas: low enough to freeze an uninsulated water pipe for sure.

Solar Power seems to be the most reliable in these winter circumstances, strangely enough.
Posted on Reply
#70
Caring1
dragontamer5788
[MEDIA=twitter]1361677146595459073[/MEDIA]

So some "blonde" posts pics of machinery and water lines with ice on it as an explanation as to why gas lines are frozen?
Posted on Reply
#71
Slizzo
Regardless of everything else, Texas' refusal to adhere to federal regulations in regards to hardening power for weather is what cause them to get into this conundrum. Fed regs require hardening the grid to the same guidelines that Alaska or any other state must do.
Posted on Reply
#72
First Strike
Why_Me
Again gas can go through uninsulated lines without a problem in subzero temps which I highly doubt Texas had. There's more to this story than what's being reported.
First law of physics: Nobody sends uncompressed gas. If you compress a gas with 200-1500 psi pressure, then they will surely freeze in a much higher tempereture.

Ethane for example, turns into liquid around merely -10 F at 200 psi, as opposed to -127 F in normal pressure. If you choose a heavy mix and a high pressure, of course it WILL freeze.

Second law of physics: If you decompress a gas at the receiving side, for every 100 psi you drop, the temperature will drop by 7 F and begin to freeze other stuff.
And: Don't assume everyone transport gas with absolute no traces of water vapor. The Fed may have regulations on vapor concentrations, but it's TEXAS!

Yes, even if the gas arrived in gaseous form, if you do not reserve enough heating power, your machines and pipes will experience an icestorm. Do you dare to turn on the valves?
Posted on Reply
#73
ratirt
Slizzo
Regardless of everything else, Texas' refusal to adhere to federal regulations in regards to hardening power for weather is what cause them to get into this conundrum. Fed regs require hardening the grid to the same guidelines that Alaska or any other state must do.
They have the right to refuse. Preparedness people say here. I understand you can't predict the weather but will you suspect snow in places like Kenya for example? There wasn't snowing ever and why would you spend a lot of cash to prepare for something happening with a rarity of a I don't know, a huge meteor strike threatening Earth? No one is going to prepare for something like that and spend a lot of cash when it may happen once a 100 years or never. Has anyone seen snow and temp 20F in TX up until now? I've never seen one is Odessa TX and I don't know anyone who might have seen it. It's an anomaly, one time thing, It's not gonna be like that every year.
Posted on Reply
#74
JustAnEngineer
A large asteroid strike is about a 1 in 1,000,000 year event. A hard freeze in Texas is about a 1 in 10 year event. They are not equivalent risks. You definitely should have planned for one of these scenarios.
El Paso had a hard freeze that affected their power generation plants in 2011. After that event, the local utility spent $4½ million to repair and winterize their facilities and they updated their design and maintenance guidelines to consider colder weather. Guess who's still got power this week when most of Texas is failing hard.
Posted on Reply
#75
mechtech
tfdsaf
Too much reliance on "green energy", Texas shut down at least 30% of its coal and gas power and in its stead put up windmills, which about 15% of them froze up during the cold temperatures these past weeks.

They shut down about 30% gas and coal and put up windmills at about 30% power, but it turns out the windmills average power was much smaller than their max power production, so they ended up only replacing about 25% of the power they shut down and like we are seeing now in these very cold weeks the windmills just froze up completely!
Interesting. I never heard of windmills freezing up here in Canada. Maybe we got the ‘winter’ grade?
Posted on Reply
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