After the announcement that Elkem Solar wanted to start production of ingot blocs for solar panels at Herøya the autumn of 2015, the day was finally here to officially open the plant. The production is now part of the most environmentally friendly value chain for solar panels in the world – from Elkem Solar in Kristiansand, via Herøya, to REC Solar in Singapore.
Before the official opening the Norwegian prime minister met with 10 employees from the plant, over lunch. The talked about Elkem Solar’s work the last years, what is planned at Herøya and the solar industry in general.
The opening welcomed more than 200 guest to the factory. Colleagues in Elkem Solar in Kristiansand, friends from the area and national partners attended the opening. The programme was opened by prime minister Erna Solberg. She focused on how positive the opening of the plant would be for the area, an area challenged with redundancies the last months. The prime minister emphasised on the importance of celebrating these events.
After the prime minister’s talk, CEO of Elkem group, Helge Aasen, entered the stage. –This is a dream come true for us all, he said. –Solar energy is key to solving climate change issues, he added. The fast development in the solar industry was highlighted, and he said that the key for Elkem Solar to succeed will be the highly competent people working at the plant, committed to continuous improvement of the process.
Steve O’Neill, CEO of REC Solar, was also present at the event, and talked about the transformational shift that has happened in the industry, due to technological development. –Every year over 100 000 households will get solar panels because of the production at Herøya, O’Neill said.
Plant manager Geir Ausland had the privilege to end the official programme from the stage, by thanking his colleagues that for the last years have worked endlessly to improve the process of solar silicon, at Elkem Solar in Kristiansand. Elkem Solar has reduced both energy use and cost by half, twice, the last years. This is unique. –This is because of our dedicated employees has been at their best when the challenge has been the greatest, Ausland said.
After prime minister Erna Solberg had cut the ribbon, everyone got a tour in the factory, for many the highlight of the day. At the tour the participants learned about the solar industry as a whole, development steps for Elkem Solar and what will make the production at Elkem Solar Herøya so special. The factory has been upgraded the last year, and is today the factory with the highest automation in the industry. Elkem Solar has the worlds lowest CO2 footprint in the production of solar panels and will continue to work to be best in class, now included the factory at Herøya.
The ten employees that had lunch with the prime minister. The prime minister in the middle.
Plant manager Geir Ausland, prime minister Erna Solberg and CEO Helge Aasen.
The prime minister looks at the blocs produced at Herøya.