Wacker has Ambitious Plans for Norwegian Site
21.06.2022 - With an eye to expanding production capacity for silicon metal, Germany’s Wacker Chemie has launched a feasibility study to carry out a capacity upgrade at its site in Holla, Norway.
The plans call for the construction of a new furnace, which would increase capacity at the site by around 50%. In particular, the study will examine how the infrastructure can be developed to accommodate future expansions, the company said.
If consultations with local authorities about zoning and agreements on energy supply are successfully completed, the Munich-based chemical producer said it could take a decision to build the new furnace toward the end of this year, with completion expected in 2025.
The expansion at Holla is an important prerequisite for accelerating Wacker’s growth plan up to 2020, said CEO Christian Hartel. By this date, he said the company aims to generate sales of more than €10 billion by 2030, with an EBITDA margin of over 20%.
Silicon metal, one of the Wacker’s most important raw materials, is needed to produce silicones and hyperpure polysilicon. Currently, the silicon metal produced at Holla covers around one-third of demand at its German sites.
By expanding its captive production, Hartel said the company will become more independent of price fluctuations for raw materials and enhance its supply security during times of peak demand and especially if restrictions in global supply chains emerge.
Capacity expansion and the enhancement and modernization of infrastructure are also essential building blocks toward halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, noted Robert Gnann, head of Wacker Silicones. The Holla site, he said, will play a key role in achieving this target, noting that production of silicon metal is energy-intensive, and plants must be state-of-the-art.
Additional levers for reducing emissions Wacker is looking at include the electrification of production processes and the use of electricity from renewable sources. It recently signed a supply agreement with Norwegian electricity producer Statkraft, covering green electricity from hydropower. Over the period January 2022 to December 2027, Statkraft will provide altogether 2.35 terawatt hours of certified green electricity from hydroelectric power – about 40 percent of the Holla site’s annual needs.
At the same time, Wacker said it is working to replace the coal used as a reducing agent in the manufacture of silicon metal with renewable materials such as charcoal or pellets. The aim is to save up to 430,00 tonnes of CO2 at the Norwegian site annually.
The company is also investigating ways of storing CO2 generated in production and using it as a raw material in chemical production. At its Burghausen, Germany, site, Wacker is designing a plant complex called RHYME Bavaria to produce renewable methanol from existing production processes using green hydrogen and CO2.
Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist