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1999: Here comes the sun

The “From sand to solar cells” project was the start of a major Norwegian effort on silicon for solar cells -  and has helped to give Norwegian industry the yellow jersey in this field.

In its research on solar cell materials, SINTEF collaborates with traditional Norwegian metal producers, here at one of Elkem’s smelters. Photo: SINTEF/Thor Nielsen

"From sand to solar cells” (1999 – 2004) was a joint NOK 26 million project of which SINTEF was a member.

SINTEF was also involved in a number of purely industrial projects:

Cooperation with young giant …

Among other projects, the SINTEF Group has also collaborated with REC, the pioneering Norwegian company that in the course of the first ten years of the new century has become one of the world’s largest producers of silicon for solar cells, silicon wafers for solar celss, the cells themselves and complete modules.

… and with traditional metallurgical industry

SINTEF has also helped two traditional Norwegian metal producers to develop energy-saving metallurgy-based production processes for solar cell silicon – in a decade during which demand for solar cell materials exploded.

In the autumn of 2009, Elkem Solar inaugurated a NOK 4 billion solar cell silicon production plant near Kristiansand in Southern Norway. The processes are based on the companies’ own patents, some of them held together with SINTEF. 

On the basis of technology that has its roots in SINTEF, Fesil Sunergy developed a metallurgical production process that uses 70 – 75 percent less energy than the classical chemical method. In 2010, the company bought an industrial site in Orkanger in the County of Sør-Trøndelag in order to start scale production of solar cell silicon.