Elkem Solar takes over REC building, 70-80 new jobs at Herøya

Elkem Solar has concluded an agreement with the bankrupt estate of REC concerning the takeover of two of the REC buildings at Herøya in order to start new solar production. Announced today that the company will be reopening the factory, providing 70-80 new jobs at Herøya.

“This is green restructuring in practice. We will be resuming industrial production on empty premises, developing new renewable technology and creating 70-80 new jobs,” says Inge Grubben-Strømnes, CEO of Elkem Solar. This initiative will also create 10 or so indirect jobs, with scope for further growth. 

Brilliant news

“This is brilliant news for Herøya and Grenland,” says Director Thor Oscar Bolstad of Herøya Industripark AS. 

“It finally looks as though the beautiful buildings left by REC will be used for new activities, and the fact that the new company works with future-oriented, sustainable industry is an advantage,” he emphasises. 

Marius Holm, manager of Zero, is also excited about the news. ”This is really good news for Norwegian jobs and the green shift. The solar cell industry is growing enormously worldwide, and Norway still has plenty of opportunities for success in this green industry,” he says in a press release. 

Extension of Elkem in Kristiansand

“The initiative that Herøya will be an extension of production at Elkem Solar in Kristiansand. The two factories will be part of the world’s most energy- and climate-efficient value chain for solar cells,” says Grubben-Strømnes.

Bluestar, owner of Elkem Solar, bought REC Solar in Singapore earlier this year, and Herøya will be a perfect complement to their overall solar initiative “from solar silicon to panels.

Aiming for spring 2016 launch

This purchase means that Elkem Solar will spend the next six months gaining an overview of the need for technology development and verifying the competitiveness of the facility. The aim is to start operation as early as the first six months of 2016. Grubben-Strømnes emphasises that Elkem Solar needs goodwill and input from both local and national authorities in order to bring this project to fruition.

“This is a project involving considerable risk, and the facility has to be upgraded at a cost of several hundred million Norwegian kroner. We need politicians who understand and appreciate the significance of Norwegian industry. We also need help from funding agencies, says Grubben-Strømnes.

“Using Norwegian silicon expertise and pure Norwegian hydropower to build solar cells all over the world is a positive climate measure,” says Geir Ausland, plant manager at Elkem Solar who will be heading the initiative.

Regional and national stakeholders must get involved

SIVA, a state enterprise that invests in commercial buildings in order to reduce risk in the event of market entry, is already involved and will help ensure that the project comes to fruition.

“SIVA was a trigger for the establishment of the solar cell industry in Norway in the early 2000s, and we would like to help a new company to utilise the expertise and infrastructure built up. The initiative from Elkem Solar at Herøya will be of major significance both regionally and nationally, and we are looking forward to ongoing cooperation,” says Lise Bartnes Aalberg, Director of Property at SIVA.

Inge Grubben-Strømnes is really pleased that SIVA has decided to become an Elkem Solar partner at Herøya, and is now working to attract more supporters.

“We will also be needing cooperation with stakeholders such as Enova and Innovation Norway, which can provide support for development and cooperation with NAV in order to obtain the right expertise,” says Grubben-Strømnes.