Kristiansand, Norway

Elkem Solar Grade Silicon Manufacturing Facility

In 2006, Elkem engaged Fluor to provide project definition services for a 5,000 metric ton per year production facility for refined silicon metal to be used in solar cell fabrication.

This project was developmental in nature since the process is a scale up of their pilot plant. The process used is metallurgical and different from other solar-grade silicon production facilities that were currently being executed.

Elkem later awarded the engineering, procurement, and construction management contract for the project to Fluor. The project included the construction of four large new buildings, refurbishing two very old structures that contain the process elements, and the infrastructure for the facility.

Fluor was also responsible for managing the turnkey EPC contracts that Elkem awarded to suppliers of process equipment.

Client's Challenge

Elkem has been producing silicon for 60 years, but not highly purified solar-grade silicon. For more than 25 years, the company has been working on a proprietary process to purify metallurgical-based silicon for use in solar cells.

This new process to create solar grade polysilicon would help provide Elkem a competitive advantage in the solar sector. Operational, their estimated costs compared to manufacturers using the traditional Siemens process or the newer FBR process would considerably lower.

Elkem had two major challenges to overcome when they undertook this project; successfully scaling up their pilot plant and retrofitting the existing site to produce a new product.

Fluor's Solution

Fluor utilized multiple execution offices on this scale up project to ensure the proper resources were available to meet the demands of the project.

When the project entered the construction phase, a construction management team was assembled from a diverse group of professionals originating in The Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Australia, and Canada. This team addressed the challenges of working on a congested existing site that involved building demolition and refurbishing with limited lay down areas for construction.



Fluor worked closely with Elkem personnel to achieve mechanical completion of the project in April 2009.

As of July 2009, Lines 1 and 2 produced 250 metric tons of purified solar grade silicon. After ramp-up, the facility will have 6,000 tons of annual capacity.

Elkem's and Fluor's commitment to HSE was recognized when the project was rated the number one project in Norway for HSE performance.

The project logged over 2.5 million craft work hours without a lost time incident.