Silicor Materials, Inc., the lowest cost manufacturer of high-quality solar silicon and a producer of aluminum by-products, announced today that it has selected a site at the port of Grundartangi in Iceland for its first large-scale solar silicon production facility.
Silicor has engaged Arion Bank, one of the largest banks in Iceland, to lead the debt financing for the plant, which would create as many as 400 full-time jobs in addition to up to 100 construction positions. Centra Corporate Finance was chosen to raise equity for the project. Company executives recently met with Iceland President, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, regarding the initiative, and are in active discussions with Iceland’s Ministry of Industries and Innovation to finalize an incentives package.
“When we consider the potential sites for our first commercial-scale plant, Iceland is a leading candidate for a number of reasons,” said Theresa Jester, CEO of Silicor Materials. “In addition to its world-class manufacturing and transportation infrastructure, the country provides low-cost renewable energy, enabling Silicor to produce the only truly ‘green’ silicon in the world. Further, Iceland ranks among the top aluminum producers worldwide, providing Silicor with a built-in market for its premium aluminum-based products. With the support of Arion Bank, we are well positioned to bring this venture to realization.”
In testing with solar manufacturers using a variety of silicon blends, Silicor’s solar silicon has proven to consistently meet customers’ rigorous performance requirements, including achieving mainstream market efficiencies. The company’s Iceland facility will have a nameplate capacity of 16,000 metric tons, with the ability to yield up to 19,000 metric tons of solar silicon each year. Once all phases of the project are complete, the company will produce at a cash cost of $9/kg, with a roadmap for substantial further cost reductions. Silicor has already secured sales commitments and letters of intent with several leading global solar wafer, cell and module manufacturers, and expects to have the facility’s nameplate capacity sold out by the end of 2014.
Silicor’s solar silicon is produced specifically for the solar sector, as compared to conventional processes, which were originally produced for the electronics industry and later modified to serve the solar sector. Consequently, Silicor has developed the industry’s lowest-cost manufacturing process, while producing silicon to meet the exacting specifications of its customers. The company’s process is also environmentally friendly, as evidenced by the rapid completion of all environmental permitting by Iceland’s Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources. Silicor’s manufacturing process requires two-thirds less energy than conventional processes and uses no toxic chemicals, allowing manufacturing facilities to be sited in light industrial parks.
The Silicor manufacturing process requires less than half the capital of competing technologies, providing a more capital efficient business model with significantly lower operating costs. To date, the company’s solar silicon has powered more than 20 million cells, now installed and generating clean electricity worldwide.
Additionally, Silicor’s premium aluminum products—master alloys and polyaluminum chloride—are excellent feedstocks for the automotive and wastewater treatment industries, respectively.
“Silicor has the unique potential to tap several massive industries through one process,” said Craig Wellen, CFO of Silicor Materials. “With significant quantities of material shipped and support from a global roster of satisfied customers, the company’s products are eagerly awaited by customers in a number of diverse industries. We anticipate strong, swift interest from the investment community and look forward to bringing this game-changing organization to Iceland.”
The company selected the Grundartangi site with support from the Associated Icelandic Ports.
“Silicor offers a tremendous economic development opportunity to the Icelandic community, all without compromising its dedication to environmental stewardship,” said Gisli Gislason, Director for the Associated Icelandic Ports. “Simply put, this facility is a win-win opportunity for Iceland and Silicor.”
Silicor has obtained heads of terms, and a letter of intent from Landsvirkjun and Orka Náttúrunnar (ON Power) respectively, two of Iceland’s largest power producers, to supply 100-percent renewable energy to power plant operations. SMS Siemag, a global leader in machinery and plant construction for the steel, aluminum and metallurgical-grade silicon industries, has signed on to supply the majority of the facility’s production equipment.
Pending final negotiations, Silicor aims to break ground later this year and accelerate construction to bring the plant online in 2016.