Elkem Solar has decided to start production of silicone blocks at Herøya

Elkem Solar has decided to start the production of silicone blocks in two of REC’s old factories at Herøya. The search to find around 70 enthusiastic employees is now on.

å plass i Elkem Solars kommende produksjonslokaler i Herøya Industripar

On site at Elkem Solar’s forthcoming production premises in Herøya Industrial Park. From left: Factory Manager Geir Ausland and CEO of Elkem Solar, Inge Grubben-Strømnes. (Photo: Ole Bjørn Ulsnæs)

“Now that the decision has been made we don’t have any time to lose, and the job advertisements will be sent out at some point during today. We couldn’t have wished for a better labour market to recruit from, and will establish an extremely competent and effective organisation here at Herøya,” says Inge Grubben-Strømnes, CEO of Elkem Solar. 

Four production lines

Elkem Solar will manufacture silicone blocks using solar cell silicone from Elkem Solar in Kristiansand. The blocks will then be supplied to REC Solar’s factory in Singapore, which is part of the Elkem group, and to external customers.

“Half of the silicone produced in Kristiansand will be sent to Herøya, where we are establishing two production lines in each of the two buildings. In total, the four lines will produce just under 1 GW per year,” explains Grubben-Strømnes. And it is no secret that the company sees opportunities for further growth in the factories.

A world leader in terms of energy and cost

“The production lines at Herøya are a project in which we will be using new technological solutions, which in a market that is still developing rapidly also involves a certain level of risk. But we believe that we will eventually see opportunities for expansion, and there is certainly plenty of space in the premises,” says Grubben-Strømnes. 

Elkem Solar initiated a pilot project at Herøya in September 2015. The past few months have been spent creating an overview of the need for technological developments and verification of the current facility’s competitiveness. 

“The work at Herøya will strengthen our existing production and will be part of the world’s most energy and cost-efficient value chain for solar cells,” emphasises Grubben-Strømnes.

Enova and Siva are collaborative partners

At its board meeting on 18 February, Enova decided to award NOK 72 million to Elkem Solar so that the company could start production at Herøya. Siva has also made significant investments in the physical infrastructure, and will assist with developing this further.

“Elkem Solar is taking an important step in developing blast furnace technology in a more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly direction. We hope that this project will help to accelerate the development of larger and more energy-efficient furnaces for this type of production,” says Nils Kristian Nakstad, CEO of Enova, in a press release.

“Through Herøya Business Park, Siva and Porsgrunn Utvikling will be facilitators of the physical infrastructure for Elkem Solar. Siva was a driving force in the establishment of the solar cell industry in Norway at the start of the 2000s. This competence and infrastructure can now be further utilised and developed,” says Lise Bartnes Aalberg, Director of Real Estate at Siva.

Full factory organisation

Elkem Solar has established contact with a recruitment specialist which is well-prepared to undertake the recruitment task that the company is now initiating. The 70 employees to be recruited represent most of the functions of a factory organisation.

“We need everything from management to shift operators, to process engineers and other support functions,” says Geir Ausland, Factory Manager for Elkem Solar at Herøya.

Until now, the production premises have been known as REC 3 and 4, but in a short time Elkem’s logo will illuminate the factory wall. 

About Elkem Solar

Elkem Solar has developed and industrialised proprietary technology for the production of solar cell silicone, ESS®, which uses 75% less energy than traditional processes. The company currently has 190 employees in Kristiansand. Read more at  www.elkemsolar.com