When a batch of solar-grade silicon is ready for shipping from Elkem Solars plant in Kristiansand, Norway, it has used only 25% of the energy that would have been consumed if a similar product had been made through the traditional, energy-demanding gas route production process. This figure is about to be improved further. Following promising results in small-scale testing, Elkem Solar has launched a project to further increase its energy efficiency. By improving the solar silicon production process, Elkems R&D team aims at achieving a 30% energy reduction in full-scale production.
Estimated to last for 2.5 years and cost NOK 100 million, the project was recently granted NOK 25 million in financial support from Innovation Norway, a government agency with the objective to foster innovation activity in public and private sectors. Geir Ausland, plant manager at Elkem Solar says the project will help to further strengthen the company’s competitive position.
With our current production process, Elkem Solar already has a strong advantage in the solar silicon market. In improving the process we also achieve a quality change in our product, which allows for access to an even wider market. We are already among the cost leaders in our industry. By carrying out this and other improvement projects we will be in an even stronger position when the market picks up again, says Ausland.