Wacker to expand silicon metal production
Norway site to increase capacity of product - a raw material for silicone rubber - by 50%
Munich, Germany – Wacker Chemie AG has launched a feasibility study for an expansion of its production of silicon metal, a basic raw material for the manufacture of silicone rubbers.
In an announcement 25 May, the German chemicals supplier said it is preparing to expand production capacity for silicon metal at Holla, Norway by 50% through the addition of a new furnace.
The feasibility study also examines how the infrastructure in Holla can be developed in order to accommodate further expansion measures in the future, Wacker added.
The Munich-headquartered company said it had initiated consultations with local authorities on the adapted zoning plan and with energy suppliers.
If the preparations are completed as planned, Wacker expects to make the decision to build the new furnace by the end of the year and complete the project by 2025.
Silicon metal is one of the most important raw materials, needed for producing silicones and hyperpure polysilicon.
According to Wacker, the silicon metal currently produced in Holla covers around one-third of demand at the company’s sites in Germany.
“The planned expansion measures in Holla are an important prerequisite for accelerating our growth as planned,” says CEO Christian Hartel.
“By expanding our captive production, we will become more independent of price fluctuations on raw material markets and enhance our supply security,” he added.
Wacker has identified silicone specialities as one of its growth pillars as it aims to maintain an earnings margin of over 20% and reach sales of €10 billion by 2030, up from €6.2 billion last year.
According to the materials supplier, the production of silicon metal is “very energy-intensive,” and Wacker will employ “state-of-the-art” technology for the capacity expansion in Holla.
Additional levers for reducing emissions are the electrification of production processes and the use of electricity from renewable sources.
To that end, Wacker and the Norwegian electricity producer Statkraft recently signed a supply agreement for green electricity from hydropower.
The deal will see Statkraft supplying Holla with a total of 2.35 terawatt hours of certified green electricity over the period from January 2022 to December 2027.
The figure, Wacker said, is about 40% of the site’s annual demand.
Wacker is also 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, it said, is to save up to 430 kilotonnes of CO2 per year in Holla.