AstroPower and Elkem Sign Technical Cooperation Agreement

December 18, 2000 by Jeff Shepard

AstroPower Inc. (Newark, DE) has signed a technical cooperation agreement with Elkem (Norway) to develop a low-cost process for the production of silicon for use in photovoltaic cells. The agreement includes the future establishment of a jointly-owned manufacturing venture to supply low-cost silicon feedstock to the global solar power industry. That venture would be based in Norway and managed by Elkem.

The two companies estimate that the annual market for solar-grade silicon is $75.0 million now, and that it will grow 25 to 30 percent over the next five years. They believe that this international alliance will remove a fundamental barrier to the widespread adoption of solar power.

“Elkem and AstroPower have been working together on the development of feedstock since February 1998," says Allen Barnett, president of AstroPower. “By combining several key proprietary process technologies we have separately developed, we now believe that we have designed and demonstrated an integrated production process that will enable us to produce large volumes of cost-effective solar-grade silicon feedstock."

Elkem President and CEO Ole Enger added, “We've made a commitment to protect the environment. This venture allows us to apply our technology toward solving an important problem for the solar power industry and, thus, make a significant long-term environmental contribution."