As a process industry company, the environmental footprint, specifically the GHG emissions, is of particular importance to Elkem. The process of converting quartz to silicon is a high temperature smelting process that consumes vast amounts of energy. The production process itself uses carbon sources like fossil coal, charcoal, and wood chips as a reductant in the chemical conversion giving emissions of CO₂, NOₓ, SO₂ and dust. The emission of CO₂ is inherent to the process and cannot be fully removed with today’s technology.
Elkem’s environmental policy is integrated in the companies’ General policy. Key points are Elkem’s commitment to give environment, health and safety (EHS) first priority and to strive to be an environmentally conscious company.
Elkem’s EHS efforts are based on a zero-harm philosophy. In terms of environmental issues this means running operations with resource-efficient processes and in this way minimising negative environmental impacts throughout the value chain.
Climate change mitigation and managing GHG emissions
Elkem’s ambition is to reduce the company’s fossil CO₂ footprint, by increasing the use of renewable carbon sources and development of innovative production processes. The company endorses the intention of the Paris agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. Strategic means to reduce fossil CO₂ from silicon alloy production has three pillars: Increasing material and energy efficiency, replacing fossil carbon with bio-carbon and developing new carbon neutral smelting technology illustrated below.
Elkem´s climate targets are:
- 20% replacement of direct fossil CO₂ emissions for Norwegian smelters by 2021
- 40% replacement of direct fossil CO₂ emissions for Norwegian smelters by 2030
- Full understanding of indirect (scope 3) CO₂ emissions
Energy efficiency and sustainable sourcing of energy is of utmost importance to secure energy supply while at the same time reducing Elkem's global greenhouse gas footprint. Energy management include energy consumption, energy recovery and energy efficiency. The regulatory framework, consisting of permits and taxes as well as and support in the form of public grants substantiates the importance of increased focus on energy efficiency.
Elkem´s energy targets are:
- Energy recovery increase year on year
- Energy recovery project in Salten on track for completion (going live in 2021)
Elimination of waste is one of Elkem’s key strategies for successful operations and is mentioned specifically in Elkem’s General Policy. This applies to all kinds of waste throughout the value chain with a high focus on efficient utilisation of all resources, reduction of waste generation in the different production, transportation, and storage processes and on reuse, recycling or sales of residual waste. All physical waste streams have a value, and it is our goal to realise that value and avoid disposal or destruction. Any residual waste left after other efforts is disposed of in accordance with local regulations. Waste management includes activities of reuse, recycle, transport, and disposal of waste.
As a fully integrated value chain for the production of silicon and silicones, Elkem has several interphases with water related impacts. The challenges are different both through the value chain and across the actual regions. As a leading producer of large volumes of high-quality silicon based products, we acknowledge the importance of stewarding water as a shared resource. At some of our sites, both water scarcity and potential impact on river basins and ecosystems are recognised. All key environmental impacts are identified and documented with measurements showing performance compared to permits given by government authorities where Elkem operates, and/or improvement targets set by Elkem.
Elkem´s water targets are:
- Full water discharge permit compliance: No significant spills to water
- Zero spills of D4/D5.