Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) lost power at its Tainan science park chip fab complex on Wednesday.

The outage at the Fab 14 P7 facility in Tainan City, Taiwan, was caused by construction work in which accidentally severed an underground power line in the late morning.

Supply mostly returned to the company's 40nm factory by 7pm local time. Some of the semiconductor manufacturing systems were able to continue during the outage, thanks to backup generators - but not all. It is not known how severely production was disrupted.

TSMC Fab 5
– Wikimedia Commons/Peellden

“Personnel in the fab were not evacuated. Power was restored the same day. TSMC is currently evaluating the impact,” the company told Reuters.

TSMC, the world's largest contract manufacturer of semiconductors, is also struggling with a lengthy drought in its home country. As Taiwan enters yet another month of its worst drought in 57 years, the company has taken to trucking in water. As a critical business, it still has some access to dwindling local reservoirs, while surrounding farmers have been paid to stop working.

Over in Japan, Renesas Electronics is still recovering from a devastating fire at one of its semiconductor plants, while Samsung, NXP, and Infineon are still catching up from a lengthy outage in Texas due to Storm Uri.

These disruptions add to an already severely constrained semiconductor market, where demand significantly outstrips supply, causing delays to consumer electronics the world over. Perhaps the worst-hit sector is the automotive market, which reduced its purchases of chips in the early days of the pandemic, and then was unable to reacquire supply as demand for other products boomed.

This week, Ford said that it would have to once again shut down factories that could not build cars without chips, with five sites in the US, and one in Turkey set to be impacted.

The company pointed both to the overall chip crisis, and the Renesas fire and Texas storm as reasons for the delay.

Nissan also plans to temporarily shut two sites in the US and one in Mexico, while Honda has called the situation "fluid." Volkswagen is currently idling part of its factory in Mexico.