Onsemi plans SiC semiconductor plant in the Czech Republic – www.electrive.com

The US semiconductor manufacturer Onsemi has announced an investment of up to two billion US dollars to build a silicon carbide production facility in the Czech Republic. The plant will produce SiC power semiconductors for electric vehicles, among other things.
Onsemi’s investment in the Czech Republic is still subject to final regulatory approval and the granting of subsidies by the Czech government, according to the company. The new facility is to occupy a brownfield site. Onsemi is already active in the Czech Republic, with operations in Brno and Rožnov pod Radhoštěm where it produces silicon crystals as well as silicon and silicon carbide wafers.
Onsemi says its planned multi-year investment of up to $2 billion is aimed at solidifying the semiconductor supply chain for its European and global customer base. Should the deal get regulatory approval, the company says it would be “one of the largest private investments in the history of the Czech Republic”.
“Our brownfield investment would establish a Central European supply chain to better service our customers’ rapidly increasing demand for innovative technologies that improve the energy efficiency in their applications,” said Hassane El-Khoury, president and Onsenu CEO. “Through a close collaboration with the Czech government, the expansion would also enhance our production of intelligent power semiconductors that are essential to helping ensure the European Union is able to achieve its ambitions to significantly reduce carbon emissions and environmental impact.”  
Semiconductors based on silicon carbide instead of pure silicon are characterized by their higher efficiency. If such semiconductors are used in the inverters of electric cars, more electricity from the battery reaches the electric motors and is converted into propulsion. As the more efficient semiconductors also generate less waste heat, the cooling system for the power electronics can also be designed to be smaller and lighter, which further reduces the consumption of the overall system – and increases the range. However, silicon carbide semiconductors are significantly more expensive, which is why silicon semiconductors will probably continue to be used in cheaper electric cars.
“Onsemi’s decision to expand in Czechia is a clear confirmation of our country’s attractiveness for foreign investment and will bring significant momentum for the development of our economy,” said Jozef Síkela, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic. “This investment not only strengthens our position in the semiconductor field but can also contribute to the development of the automotive industry and help us with its adaptation to the rise of electromobility.”
Onsemi’s customers include numerous automakers such as Volkswagen, BMW, Hyundai-Kia and Zeekr, as well as the drive supplier Vitesco, which is itself building a plant for power electronics in the Czech Republic .

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