Elkem was an industrial pioneer in the utilisation of waste heat, with the first energy recovery system on a smelting furnace being installed already in the 1970s. Since then, Elkem has been investing in energy recovery plants, such as the more recent one located at Elkem Salten in the northern part of Norway.
What is energy recovery?
Recovered heat from smelting furnaces can be utilised as hot water for district heating, steam for other production processes and to generate new electricity. Electricity is sold back to the grid, while hot water and steam are used both internally and externally to supply other companies and communities in the vicinity of each plant.
From hot water to district heating, there are numerous usages. These include the heating of raw materials internally, supplying to public building and sports arenas in local communities, and providing to other companies with activities such as land-based fish farming that need heat.
New energy recovery plant at Elkem Salten
In April 2018, Elkem initiated a partnership with Kvitebjørn Energi to build an energy recovery plant at Elkem Salten in the northern part of Norway. The installation is able to recover 28% of the electrical energy feed into the plant’s three smelting furnaces. This equals the power consumption of about 15,000 Norwegian households.
At the announcement of the project in April, Elkem’s CEO Helge Aasen said: - This is an attractive and important project for Elkem. Together with our partner, Kvitebjørn Energi, we will continue to develop Elkem’s leading position within energy recovery. The project will increasingly strengthen our competitiveness.
The investment frame of the project was estimated to NOK 1 billion and has been supported by Enova, the Norwegian government’s funding agency for energy efficiency improvements. It is the second largest investment Enova has ever funded.
The energy recovery plant has positioned Elkem Salten to be one of the most energy effective silicon plants in the world. Together with other energy recovery installations that have been implemented at Elkem plants over many years, this has brought the total energy recovery of the group to approximately 900 GWh per year. The project has therefore strengthened Elkem’s efforts to ensure environmentally friendly silicon and ferrosilicon production with the lowest possible emissions and lowest possible use of resources.