Solar Success Without Sunshine

Norway is not readily associated with sunshine. During peak wintertime, there are northern parts of Norway shrouded in near total darkness. Yet the Norwegian solar power industry employs 2,000 to 3,000 people domestically and generates more than NOK 10 billion per year in turnover, according to the Norwegian Solar Energy Society, and has a global presence stretching from California to China.

The Norwegian solar cell industry has surprisingly established itself among the world leaders within the production of materials and equipment for photovoltaic (PV) solar energy, according to a recent report by Menon called Norwegian Environmental Technology and National Advantages.

What is surprising is that there is relatively no home market for solar power in Norway.

According to the IEA, the largest markets are in Germany, Spain, Japan and the US. Other countries such as Australia, China, France, Greece, India, Italy, Korea and Portugal are gaining momentum due to new policy and economic support schemes. As a result, most Norwegian solar power companies are internationally oriented.

The driver behind Norway’s solar success internationally has been its tradition at home within metals production. The country possesses the raw material silicon, which is used to make semiconductors, and can also be used for solar cells. Norway also has access to abundant hydropower, a necessity for the power-intensive solar cell production process.

Strong Value Chain
The first solar wafer plant in Norway started in 1997 at a former Norsk Hydro metals plant in Glomfjord that was transformed by ScanWafer and its founder Alf Bjørseth. The company became Renewable Energy Corporation (REC), which is now one of the most integrated companies in the solar power industry.

REC Silicon and REC Wafer are among the world’s largest producers of polysilicon and wafers for solar applications. REC has regional offices in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, California, Korea, and Singapore, and recently started test production at its new integrated manufacturing complex for wafers, cells and modules in Singapore.

REC has been the locomotive for Norway’s solar power industry, according to Menon. Many solar-related companies have sprung up around REC representing all parts of the value chain. These include NorSun, Scatec Solar, Umoe Solar, Metallkraft, Innotech Solar, Elkem Solar, Hydro Solar, Tordivel Solar and hydropower company Statkraft, which has expanded into other renewables. Common to most of these companies is their international presence abroad.

 

The driver behind Norway’s solar success
internationally has been its tradition at
home within metals production. The
country possesses the raw material silicon,
which is used to make semiconductors,
and can also be used for solar cells.

© Bernhard Lang / Dreamstime

 

Solar Power – Norwegian Companies
Norwegian Owner & Power Producers
Elkem Solar, Hydro, NorSun, REC, Scatec, Statkraft

Energy Field Mapping
Meteorolgisk Institutt, Storm Weather Centre

Environmental Impact Assessment
DNV, Scandpower

Engineering, Fabrication, Package Suppliers & Constructors
ABB, Aker Solutions, Multiconsult, REC, Scatec, Siemens

R&D, Training & Consulting
ECON Pöyry, IFE, NTNU, OREEC, Sintef, Statnet, UiS

CER Compliance, Marketing & Trading
DNV, Greenstream

Investors & Financing
Elkem, Hafslund, Orkla, Norfund, GIEK, Norad

Source: INTPOW